• Breast diseases;
  • life change events;
  • depressive disorder


One hundred and forty women referred to the Southampton breast clinic had a psychiatric interview at home, before their first clinic attendance. The 107 subsequently diagnosed as having benign breast disease had a high rate of depressive symptomatology in comparison with women in published surveys of the general population. In the year before referral, 25 (23 per cent) had had definite depression and 19 (18 per cent) had had borderline depression: at the time of interview 9 (8 per cent) had major depression and 22 (21 per cent) had minor depression. Depression in these patients was associated with recent life events and social difficulties. Mood disturbance and psychosocial stress may lead to medical consultation about benign breast disease, or even contribute to its development. Severe depression was less common in the 33 patients who turned out to have breast cancer, though more of them had minor depression, and they reported fewer recent life events.