There has been much discussion in the media about the question of the existence of a depression epidemic. This leads on to the questions of whether the social and economic approaches are adequate, and what the alternatives are. The concept of the disease ‘depression’ can be defined using a medical model, or from a patient’s or a societal perspective. From a medical perspective, indeed a depression epidemic has ensued from the increased prosperity and the associated decompression of the mortality rate. Society responded with preventative measures and policies aimed at improving functioning in the workplace. However, patients with a major depressive disorder (MDD) who are eligible for treatment are often not motivated to take it up, or are undertreated. Research is necessary in order to explore what patients think about the identification and treatment of depression. The confusion regarding the concept of depression found in the media, needs to be cleared.