The Merck Essay Prize was inaugurated in 1993. All trainee psychiatrists (senior house officers, registrars or senior registrars) in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland were eligible to submit an essay on the topic: ‘Depression: Counting the Costs’. The winning essay by Dr Peter Haddad is printed here. The runners-up in Joint second place were Dr J. Bray, Lecturer, University of Leicester (Leicester General Hospital) and Dr R. Bullock, Senior Registrar, St Mary Abbots Hospital, London.
Depressive illness is the commonest form of mental disorder in the community. Its effects are far-reaching and include psychological suffering and social disruption for affected individuals and their families, increased mortality, and direct and indirect financial costs for society. Only about half of all cases of depression are recognised by doctors and not all of these receive effective treatment. The costs of depression could be reduced if detection and treatment were improved. Addressing this is a major challenge for psychiatric services.
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