The Clinical Definition of Depression May Change

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

Several psychiatrists are considering changing guidelines that define depression, due to findings from a new study.

Michele Norris talks with Dr. Michael First of Columbia University about expanding the "bereavement exclusion" in the major handbook for psychiatrists.

Currently, patients experiencing symptoms of depression after the loss of a loved one aren't classified as clinically depressed because the symptoms are thought to be a normal, though temporary, reaction.

"Twenty-five percent of people who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder in the study," Dr. First says, "looked just like the people who we would consider to have normal grief."

Dr. First says that he and his colleagues think other life experiences, such as divorce and job loss, fit that same category.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.