July 30, 2009

Depression difficult to diagnose

Primary care physicians in Britain were able to recognize about half of people who had clinical depression, researchers said.

Dr. Alex Mitchell of University of Leicester and Dr. Amol Vaze and Dr. Sanajay Rao, both of Leicester Partnership Trust, examined 41 trials from nine countries that involved 50,000 patients.

The analysis, published in The Lancet, also found that the primary care physicians correctly diagnosed 80 percent of healthy people who did not have depression.

Research also suggests equivalent errors in the diagnosis of depression from allied health professionals and hospital specialists, Mitchell said in a statement.

Health professionals may be reluctant to give a label of depression, particularly in the medical notes. Further not all diagnostic errors are converted into therapeutic mistakes. Clinicians appear to treat those in whom they are most confident of the diagnosis and not those in whom a diagnosis is uncertain.