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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 42 (2000) 1, 11 - 18

Short report

Does biological depression research enrich the diagnosis of depression?

H.M. van Praag

In 1974 I formulated the expectation that biological depression research will lead to new, innovative antidepressants with a much greater biological and thus psychopathological specificity than the ones available; that such research would specify indications for antidepressants and ultimately would lead to what I have called 'functional psychopharmacology'. Those expectations have grosso modo not materialized, but they have not been refuted either. Rather it was impossible to study them, because two developments came about much more slowly than I had thought and hoped for. I am referring to the development of antidepressants with a high degree of biological selectivity and to research aimed at sophistication of psychiatric diagnosing and its release from the nosological strait-jacket. Though slow in occurring, those expected trends have not been shown to be fictitious. Indeed, selective antidepressants are now advancing and denosologisation of psychiatric diagnosing is gradually carried into effect, at least among (some) biological researchers.
Thus my expectations have not come true. Yet they are not quenched either; they show even signs of new life. I consider it no bold venture to uphold them.

keywords biology and psychiatric diagnosing, denosologisation of psychiatric diagnosis, functionalisation of psychiatric diagnosis, receptor-specific antidepressants, verticalisation of psychiatric diagnosis