Table of Contents
International Journal of Family Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 316409, 7 pages
Research Article

Chronic and Recurrent Depression in Primary Care: Socio-Demographic Features, Morbidity, and Costs

1Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, Upper Third Floor, Royal Free Hospital, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK
2Personal Social Services Research Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK
3Personal Social Services Research Unit, University of Kent, Cornwallis Building, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF, UK
4Research Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College London, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK

Received 9 January 2012; Revised 28 March 2012; Accepted 1 April 2012

Academic Editor: Jan De Lepeleire

Copyright © 2012 Elaine M. McMahon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Major depression is often chronic or recurrent and is usually treated within primary care. Little is known about the associated morbidity and costs. Objectives. To determine socio-demographic characteristics of people with chronic or recurrent depression in primary care and associated morbidity, service use, and costs. Method. 558 participants were recruited from 42 GP practices in the UK. All participants had a history of chronic major depression, recurrent major depression, or dysthymia. Participants completed questionnaires including the BDI-II, Work and Social Adjustment Scale, Euroquol, and Client Service Receipt Inventory documenting use of primary care, mental health, and other services. Results. The sample was characterised by high levels of depression, functional impairment, and high service use and costs. The majority (74%) had been treated with an anti-depressant, while few had seen a counsellor (15%) or a psychologist (3%) in the preceding three months. The group with chronic major depression was most depressed and impaired with highest service use, whilst those with dysthymia were least depressed, impaired, and costly to support but still had high morbidity and associated costs. Conclusion. This is a patient group with very significant morbidity and high costs. Effective interventions to reduce both are required.