Depression is common and disabling in primary health care. Treatment of this condition with simple and inexpensive approaches such as screening or physician education alone do not appear to produce any significant or lasting benefit. Evidence of the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions for cases of mild severity is limited but quite encouraging for major depressive episodes. Both pharmacological and psychological interventions appear almost equally effective. Evidence is accumulating that, irrespective of the active components of treatment, more intensive and organized treatment of depression in primary health care is needed in order to improve clinical and functional outcomes. However these intensive approaches are more expensive and a careful cost-benefit analysis of treatment packages and intervention components is needed to guide further management decisions in this field.