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A survey was designed to explore the effect of obstetrician-gynecologists' subjective awareness of depression in themselves and close family/friends on screening patients for depression and on assessing and treating depression in three scenarios describing hypothetical patients during the adolescence, postpartum, and perimenopausal periods. Questionnaires were mailed to 397 members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) who participate in the Collaborative Ambulatory Research Network (CARN). Fifty-five percent of the questionnaires were returned. One third of physicians reported having suffered from depression occasionally (28.1%), often (3.8%), or all the time (2.4%) during the past year. Having personally suffered from depression was associated with elevated assessment of depression in the scenarios but not with elevated rates of screening for depression in actual practice, nor with aggressiveness of treatment choices in the scenarios. Awareness that a close friend suffered from depression was not associated with lowered mood as measured, but was associated with increased rates of screening for depression in adolescent, postpartum, and perimenopausal patients, and with elevated assessment of depression and more aggressive treatment practices for depression in hypothetical patients at these three life stages. As such, physicians' practices regarding depression may be influenced by something other than reactivity to their own emotional state.