Friday, October 30, 2009

Patients with long-term diseases to be assessed for depression

GPs must assess people with chronic diseases to see whether they are suffering from depression, under new guidelines.

GPs must assess all patients with long-term diseases such as cancer to see whether they are suffering from depression, under new guidelines published today.

Too many doctors and patients assume that fatigue and weight loss are a result of the disease or the medicines they are taking, according to experts who formulated the guidelines for the National Institute for Healthcare and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Depression affects one in six people at some point, but is three times more common in people with chronic diseases than in the rest of the population.

John Hindle, a consultant physician with the Betsi Cadwaladr University local health board, who was on the guideline development group, said that improving people's mood may even make them physically better.

"We should give everybody with physical disease the opportunity to be asked about the symptoms of depression," he said.

GPs should be asking two key questions, the guidelines say: during the last month, has the patient been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless in the last month or by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?


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