The prevalence of depression increased from 12.8% in 2007/8 to 13.1% for 2008/9 in England.
But GPs in England improved their performance scoring 92.8% of the available 33 depression points compared with 90.6% in 2007/8, according to latest figures from the NHS Information Centre.
In Scotland, the prevalence increased from 6.9 to 7.8%, but GPs still improved their scores from 94.9% to 95.6%.
Scores were also up in Northern Ireland from 95.3% to 96.9%, and in Wales scores improved to 94.2%.
North Shields GP Dr Dave Tomson, who has an interest in mental health, said: ‘The latest data shows that GPs are identifying more cases of depression. This goes against the long-held view that GPs often miss cases of depression.
‘GPs are using assessment tools to monitor severity which is a good thing. It should enable GPs to avoid over-medicalising patients who not have depression.'
He added that it was important for GPs to develop a much closer collaboration with the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme to help patients with depression.
Overall, the depression domain was the hardest clinical area to score points on in 2008/9, as was the case in 2007/8.
GPs also struggled with the palliative care and mental health indicators.