Purpose of review: The authors seek solutions to better meet the healthcare needs of depressed patients in primary care by improving the recognition of depression, other mood disorders and of a risk for suicide.
Recent findings: For 25 years academic psychiatry and primary care have known that only 10–50% of depressed patients are adequately treated, primarily because of the failure to recognize depression. There are substantial negative consequences including suicide. Suicide occurs during depression so the recognition of depression is the critical first step to preventing suicide. Recently noted is that one barrier to recognition is the traditional, comprehensive, psychiatric interview taught in academic departments of psychiatry that is impractical in primary care settings because it takes too much time. Some brief, initial psychiatric techniques have been developed but these typically have been introduced in primary care training programs and not by departments of psychiatry.
Summary: A verbal four-question, 90 s screen for depression may be acceptable for routine use in primary care because it typically requires only seconds to a few minutes. Introduction of such a screening instrument to medical students on psychiatry and primary care clerkships could increase the recognition of depression and reduce death by suicide.