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Clinical Skills Guidelines

Physicians should be sure to inquire about pertinent symptoms of depression: SIGECAPS[1]

S - Sleep

I - Interest

G - Guilt

E - Energy

C - Concentration

A - Appetite

P - Psychomotor

S - Suicide

General tips:

  • Take any thoughts of suicide/homicide seriously in both men and women.

  • Maintain a kind, compassionate, non-judgmental attitude in order to form a therapeutic alliance.

  • Consider the social context and try to address any issues.

  • Encourage patients to ask questions, and provide education about depression as an illness.

  • Discuss what patients can realistically expect from treatment, including side effects and occasional "bad days" while on the road to recovery. Ensure the patient understands that improvement will take time.

  • Encourage patients to let the physician know if unable to adhere to treatment plans so alternatives can be arranged[2].

  • Involve the family/friends where appropriate by asking them to support the patient through the recovery process.

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1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -- Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Publishing Inc, 2000.

2. Remick RA (2002) Diagnosis and management of depression in primary care: A clinical update and review. CMAJ 167 (11): 1253-60.

All references for this section