The role of pharmacotherapy in the management of depressive disorders is well-established and frequently reviewed. This paper focuses on the prospects for reducing the incidence, prevalence and morbidity of depression through psychosocial interventions. A central requirement in prevention is a knowledge of the epidemiology of the disorder being investigated. This data can be used to identify high-risk groups. By comparing the number of known cases with population levels of morbidity, it allows comment on help-seeking behaviour and accessibility of services. Also, differences in incidence and prevalence rates give some indication of the chronicity of the disorder.