Background: Socioeconomic predictors and consequences of depression and its treatment were investigated in 4393 adults with specified non-communicable diseases attending 38 public sector primary care clinics in the Eden and Overberg districts of the Western Cape, South Africa. Methods: Participants were interviewed at baseline in 2011 and 14 months later, as part of a randomised controlled trial of a guideline-based intervention to improve diagnosis and management of chronic diseases. The 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD-10) was used to assess depression symptoms, with higher scores representing more depressed mood. Results: Higher CESD-10 scores at baseline were independently associated with being less educated (p=0.004) and having lower income (p=0.003). CESD-10 scores at follow-up were higher in participants with less education (p=0.010) or receiving welfare grants (p=0.007) independent of their baseline scores. Participants with CESD-10 scores of 10 or more at baseline (56% of all participants) had 25% higher odds of being unemployed at follow-up (p=0.016), independently of baseline CESD-10 score and treatment status. Among participants with baseline CESD-10 scores of 10 or more, antidepressant medication at baseline was independently more likely in participants who had more education (p=0.002), higher income (p<0.001), or were unemployed (p=0.001). Antidepressant medication at follow up was independently more likely in participants with higher income (p=0.023), and in clinics with better access to pharmacists (p=0.053) and off-site drug delivery (p=0.013). Conclusions: Socioeconomic disadvantage appears to be both a cause and consequence of depression, and may also be a barrier to treatment. There are opportunities for improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of depression in primary care in inequitable middle income countries like South Africa. Trial registration: The trial is registered with Current Controlled Trials (ISRCTN20283604) and the Office for Human Research Protections Database (IRB00001938, FWA00001637).