Feature Article

Diagnosing and managing depression in adults

Philip M Boyce, Frances Wilson



The profound effect that even mild depression can have on the quality of life of an individual and his or her family should not be underestimated. The condition is often not recognised when patients present with it, and patients in whom it is diagnosed are often undertreated.

Key Points

  • Management of depression includes the correct identification of clinical depression, distinguishing pathological from ‘normal’ depression, assessment of risk to self and to others, psychoeducation of the patient and patient’s family, and application of evidence-based treatments.
  • All treatments should involve basic counselling.
  • Psychological therapies are recommended as first line treatment for mild to moderate depression. Antidepressants are required in addition to psychological treatments for moderate to severe depression.
  • It is important to ensure that medication is continued for a year to prevent relapses.