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Issues in Palliative Care Research$
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Russell K. Portenoy and Eduardo Bruera

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195130652

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195130652.001.0001

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Depression in the Terminally Ill: Prevalence and Measurement Issues

Depression in the Terminally Ill: Prevalence and Measurement Issues

Chapter:
(p.189) 12 Depression in the Terminally Ill: Prevalence and Measurement Issues
Source:
Issues in Palliative Care Research
Author(s):

Russell K. Portenoy

Eduardo Bruera

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195130652.003.0012

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

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