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Consensus Statement on Transcultural Issues in Depression and Anxiety From the International Consensus Group on Depression and Anxiety

James C. Ballenger, MD; Jonathan R. T. Davidson, MD; Yves Lecrubier, MD; David J. Nutt, MD, PhD (International Consensus Group on Depression and Anxiety); and Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD; Jean-Pierre Lépine, MD; Keh-Ming Lin, MD, MPH; Osamu Tajima, MD, PhD; and Yutaka Ono, MD

Published: November 1, 2001

Article Abstract

Objective: To provide primary care physicians with a better understanding of transcultural issues in depression and anxiety. Participants: The 4 members of the International Consensus Group on Depression and Anxiety were James C. Ballenger (chair), Jonathan R. T. Davidson, Yves Lecrubier, and David J. Nutt. Five faculty invited by the chair also participated: Laurence J. Kirmayer, Jean-Pierre Lépine, Keh-Ming Lin, Osamu Tajima, and Yutaka Ono. Evidence: The consensus statement is based on the 5 review articles that are published in this supplement and the scientific literature relevant to the issues reviewed in these articles. Consensus process: Group meetings were held over a 2-day period. On day 1, the group discussed the review articles, and the chair identified key issues for further debate. On day 2, the group discussed these issues to arrive at a consensus view. After the group meetings, the consensus statement was drafted by the chair and approved by all attendees. Conclusion: The consensus statement underlines the prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders across all cultures and nations while recognizing that cultural differences exist in symptom presentation and prevalence estimates. In all countries, the recognition of depression by clinicians in the primary care setting is low (generally less than 50%), and the consensus group recommends a 2-step process to aid the recognition and diagnosis of depression. In line with the low recognition of depression and anxiety disorders is the finding that only a small proportion of patients with depression or anxiety are receiving appropriate treatments for their condition. Biological diversity across ethnic groups may account for the differential sensitivity of some groups to psychotropic medication, but this area requires further investigation.

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