On the AHCPR : Further Considerations for PractitionersDepression in Primary Care Guidelines: Further Considerations for Practitioners

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The majority of cases of clinical depression go unrecognized and untreated, despite the fact that depression is an eminently treatable disorder. The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) recently published a set of clinical practice guidelines focused on depression in primary care settings. The review of the literature on which the guidelines are based is thorough and appropriate and should enhance the detection of depression and the quality of pharmacotherapy for depression. However, the guidelines encourage primary care physicians to provide pharmacotherapy to their depressed patients as the first line of treatment. The wisdom of this recommendation is questioned and revisions to the guidelines are suggested. Specifically, patients should be informed of the broad array of treatment options available and provided with a more balanced presentation of the potential benefits of psychotherapy for depression. Patients should decide which treatment alternative they wish to undergo.

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