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Bright outlook for depression caught early

19th September 2006

Diagnosing depression early increases the likelihood of a full recovery, new research has found.

According to the study sponsored by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), knowledge about depression among doctors, particularly regarding its painful physical symptoms, varies across the world.

Researchers concluded that catching the signs on a patient's first visit to a doctor would make a big difference to the long-term outlook for that patient.

"It's important that doctors quickly recognise and consider physical symptoms – such as fatigue, vague aches and pains and sleep disturbances – as possible signs of depression," said Preston Garrison, secretary-general and chief executive officer of the WFMH.

"A delayed or missed diagnosis prolongs a depressed person's suffering and may decrease the likelihood of a full recovery."

The research, which took the form of a survey of medical practitioners, was part of the WFMH's Breaking Through Barriers campaign to educate and overcome stigma with regards to depression and also to improve standards of care across the world.