This study used standardized diagnostic criteria and method to investigate both prevalence rates and nature of symptoms of depressive disorders in three Asian centres – Nagasaki. Shanghai and Seoul. Of the patients who visited a psychiatric clinic in each of the 3 centres for the first time, over 20% suffered from depression. Unlike previous reported prevalence rates for Asian countries, these results suggest that rates in Asia may not be much lower than those reported in Western countries. Although prevalence rates of depression were similar in all 3 centres, differences in symptoms were noted.