Psychological Medicine

Research Article

Diagnosis and outcome: depression and anxiety in a general population

Jane M. Murphya1 c1, Donald C. Oliviera1 p1, Arthur M. Sobola1 p2, Richard R. Monsona1 p3 and Alexander H. Leightona1 p4

a1 From Harvard Program in Psychiatric Epidemiology, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Synopsis

An assessment of the long-term outcome for depression and anxiety disorders in a general population was made as part of the Stirling County Study. Measuring outcome as a dichotomy between experiencing recurrent episodes or not during a 17-year cohort interval, it was found that 56% of the ‘cases’ had a poor prognosis. While sex, age and level of severity were not significantly related to outcome, an initial diagnosis of depression was predictive of unfavourable prognosis. Only a few of these ‘cases’ received psychiatric specialty treatment. Some disorders in the community appear, however, to be as serious as those that come to the attention of psychiatrists.

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Jane M. Murphy, Harvard Program in Psychiatric Epidemiology, Department of Psychiatry, 703 Warren Building, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

p1 Present address: Health Sciences Computing Facility, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass., USA.

p2 Present address: Department of Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass., USA.

p3 Present address: Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass., USA.

p4 Present address: Department of Psychiatry and Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University Medical School, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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