Peer Reviewed
Feature Article Psychiatry and psychology
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Mood disorders in general practice

Tim Usherwood, Anthony Harris
Mood disorders are commonly encountered in general practice. Some patients with mood disorder require referral but all will benefit from careful assessment and specific interventions in general practice.
Key Points
  • Mood disorders are commonly encountered in general practice and include the depressive disorders, bipolar disorders and cyclothymia.
  • Patients may present with psychological symptoms, somatic symptoms or affective cues, or may attend about another problem not directly associated with their mood disorder.
  • Sensitive and empathic exploration of the symptoms and problems offered by the patient is the essential first step; subsequent assessment should include biological, psychological and contextual issues, including comorbidities and vascular risk factors.
  • Management is multimodal, including psychoeducation, lifestyle advice, talking and behavioural therapies, medication and appropriate referral.
  • Structured problem solving can be a useful strategy for helping the patient address psychosocial stressors.
  • The doctor’s therapeutic alliance with the patient is an essential aspect of management.