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Did you know …

The mortality risk for suicide associated with depression is many times the general population risk.3

Research indicates that somatic symptoms are the commonest presenting features of depression in high-income countries8 and that patients with mental health problems usually present to GPs with physical health problems.9 Look out for headache, nausea, muscular and skeletal pain, and insomnia.10 It is also worth noting that these physical symptoms are often overlooked in older patients where such complaints might not seem out of the ordinary.

Depression warning signs

Does your patient describe any of the following?

  • Not going out as much/withdrawing from family
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Over sleeping
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling sick and run down
  • Loss or change of appetite
  • Significant weight loss/gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reliance on substances
  • Feeling overwhelmed, guilty, unhappy, sad, frustrated, irritable etc
  • Thoughts of failure

Further reading and resources

Australian Psychological Society (APS) – Depression tip sheet

Beyondblue – depression information

Black Dog Institute – Patient resource

headspace – Youth mental health information

headspace – Youth mental health video

Reynolds J, Griffiths K, Christensen H. Anxiety and depression: Online resources and managements tools. Aust Fam Physician 2011;40(6):382–86


  1. Hawton K, van Heeringen K. Suicide. Lancet 2009;373(9672):1372–81.
  2. Mitchell AJ, Rao S, Vaze A. International comparison of clinicians’ ability to identify depression in primary care: Meta-analysis and meta-regression of predictors. Br J Gen Pract 2011;61(583):e72–80. doi:10.3399/bjgp11X556227.
  3. Lampe L, Fritz K, Boyce P, et al. Psychiatrists and GPs: Diagnostic decision making, personality profiles and attitudes toward depression and anxiety. Australas Psychiatry 2013;21(3):231–37.
  4. Wilhelm KA, Finch AW, Davenport TA, Hickie IB. What can alert the general practitioner to people whose common mental health problems are unrecognised? Med J Aust 2008;188(12 Suppl):S114–18.


Suicide prevention and first aid a resource for GPs