Clinical depression is a serious illness which leads to persistent low mood, loss of energy and motivation, and a reduced ability to feel pleasure. It interferes with day-to-day life by producing negative thoughts and a variety of physical symptoms. Indeed physical symptoms are so important that it is more usual for patients with depression to go to their doctor with a bodily complaint than with a complaint about their mood, so it is vital that doctors understand that depression may be a “hidden” part of the picture.
According to the WHO Global Burden of Disease study (2000), Depression is the 4th leading cause of disease burden, and is in fact the world's greatest cause of disability. This means that every doctor, in every specialty, will need a basic understanding of the disease and its evolving treatment. Depression also commonly occurs in association with physical illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke, and may actually play a part in increasing the risk of some of these diseases.
Professor Robert Peveler
Director, Division of Clinical Neurosciences.