After the establishment of the first European depression research ward at the PUK Basle 1968 we started the Weissenau ‘depression treatment and research ward’ in 1976. Since this time there were approximately 1800 admissions of depressed inpatients. Up to this day 3 of the 9 county mental hospitals of Baden-WÜrttemberg FRG (1984 2797 depressiv inpatients, average time of stay 49 days) established also such special treatment wards. The conceptualization of depression wards due to treatment strategies is still in the beginning and based on clinical experience up to now. Some advantages of such depression wards could be treating a homogenous group of patients, the chance for special psychotherapeutic treatment strategies (reinforcement of non-depressive behaviour, empathic understanding of underlying dynamics), reduced anxiety in dealing with suicidale and clinging patients, a better dealing with regressive tendencies, or also better conditions for research programmes. Some of the disadvantages could be an uncontrollable regression under too empathic conditions or an accumulation of severely depressed which can paralyse therapeutic activity. To realize such a psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatment and research program it is necessary to have staff members specialized and also supervised in dealing with depressed patients.

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