Chapter

Depression in the Terminally Ill: Prevalence and Measurement Issues

Russell K. Portenoy and Eduardo Bruera

in Issues in Palliative Care Research

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780195130652
Published online November 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199999842 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195130652.003.0012
Depression in the Terminally Ill: Prevalence and Measurement Issues

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While sadness and depressed mood may be indicative of an underlying depression, they may also be part of a normal response to the anticipation of one's own death. While periodic sadness is to be expected in these circumstances, such a normal mood state must be distinguished from the entity of clinical depression. The term depression can be used in a variety of ways. In its colloquial form, it is used as a synonym for the affect of sadness. It can also refer to a symptom associated with a wide variety of physical and psychological states. Finally, it also refers to a very specific group of psychiatric syndromes. Given that the latter may represent a highly remediable source of suffering in this patient population, the ability to distinguish these different entities, measure or quantify depression, and make a psychiatric diagnosis when appropriate is critical.

Keywords: terminally ill; clinical depression; psychiatric diagnosis; palliative care; mood state

Chapter.  6666 words. 

Subjects: Palliative Medicine

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