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By C. A. H. Watts

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While it is realized that the majority of these people were suffering from a very minor illness, a proportion of them could be in the early stages of depression, and depression can develop into the lethal suicidal form without anyone being aware of the dangers. Parnell and Skottowe (1957) noted that 53 per cent of the suicides in a series at Oxford were not even under the care of a doctor at the time of the act. They suggested that in 6 per cent of cases the tragedy came as a complete surprise to everyone.

T. Mr. P. C , aged 39 years, was a farmer who had just moved into this area. He complained of palpitations and was obviously very worried about himself; he 46 CLINICAL PICTURES OF DEPRESSION was depressed enough to shed tears at the surgery. He was not short of energy, and his sex life was normal. He had early morning waking and was wretched for an hour or two after getting up. He was convinced he had a bad heart, and he regretted having come to a strange village away from his friends. He felt that the new farm was getting too much for him and he wanted to sell up and get out again.

I was called in to see Mrs. S. C , aged 42 years, because twice she had wandered away from home in the night, and her husband was at a loss to explain her strange and unpredictable behaviour. My impression after hearing the story was that she might well be a case of either schizophrenia or hysteria. When I interviewed her she had a long story of unhappiness to reveal. After the demobilization of her husband from the army, the whole family, which included three children, went to live with his parents.

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