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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

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

Russell K. Portenoy

Eduardo Bruera

Oxford University Press

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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