Depression and the Problems of Diagnosis

Prof. Chris Dowrick

We begin this podcast adventure exploring the topic of Depression. How do we define depression? Is depression the result of a “chemical imbalance”? Can you be genetically predisposed to it? Why are doctors so quick to prescribe medication? And is your GP even trained to spot depression?

My guest for this episode is Professor Chris Dowrick (@cfd1951). Chris is Professor of Primary Medical Care at the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool, general practitioner with Aintree Park Group Practice, an honorary consultant in primary care for Liverpool Primary Care Trust, and a non-executive director for Mersey Care NHS Trust.

He’s also a member of the NICE guideline development group for depression and chronic physical disease.

He’s the editor-in-chief of the international journal Chronic Illness, and the author of the book “Beyond Depression: a new approach to understanding and management“, which forms the basis for today’s conversation.

Check out Chris’s blog:




Further Reading

A very brief overview of some of Chris’s ideas from this January 2014 piece in the Daily Mail, based on a report he wrote for the British Medical Journal claiming that depression is over-diagnosed by doctors in primary care.

Iatrogenesis – Wikipedia

A brief summary of how various antidepressants work – Web MD.

NICE guidelines for assessing depression and its severity in adults.

A decent primer on the 5-HTT gene and it’s relation to susceptibility to depression.

Depression’s Evolutionary Roots – Scientific American.

Antidepressant Drug effects and Depression Severity: A Patient-Level Meta-Analysis – A study comparing the efficacy of antidepressants in relation to the severity of depressive symptoms.

The Media and the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Depression – A fascinating study discussing the media’s complicity in promoting the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression.

Books Mentioned in This Episode



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Image courtesy: Paolo De Angelis