Abstract Depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders, according to Hungarian and international data. In Western- Europe, lifetime prevalence of major depression is 13%, while one-year prevalence is 4%. The prevalence of severe depressive symptoms is similar in Hungary: approximately 5 to 8% of all patients seen by primary care physicians suffer from some kind of depressive disorders. Depression is more prevalent in women and in the elderly. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the third most common disabling disorder. Patients with depression experience impaired quality of life, anxiety, sleep disturbances, alcohol and drug abuse, and different somatic disorders. Furthermore, depression is the most important risk factor for suicide. Primary care physicians have a crucial role in the screening and diagnosing of depressive disorders. Depressive disorders can exist not only in patients complaining about depressed mood, but also in patients with "medically unexplained symptoms" (headache, fatigue, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, weight change). Primary care physicians should have appropriate knowledge about the different therapeutic options (including various psychotherapies, antidepressant medications and other treatment options) to be able to treat their patients properly. We review the literature about the significance and epidemiology of depression and summarize the diagnostic and therapeutic options of depressive disorders in primary care practice.