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The Failure From GP’s And The Treatment Of Depression


Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 The Failure From GP’s And The Treatment Of Depression

It has been disclosed in a report from the Independent’s Nina Lakhani that more than half of the patient’s suffering depression in the UK are ignorant to what treatments are available to them, despite government pledges to improve patient choice, with reference to new research recently published.

In addition it has also been reported that two-thirds of the patients leave their doctors surgery completely unaware of any alternative treatments other than anti-depressants according to a report ‘Daring to choose’ by the charity Depression Alliance.

Notwithstanding, 513 people were surveyed and it was deemed that only one third had been told there was a choice of antidepressants, while 70 per cent felt they were given inadequate information about the side effects.

Experts are now claiming that the findings suggest that GP’s are still failing to follow the strict guidelines in place from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) about the best use of antidepressants, psychological therapies and self-help groups for people suffering from depression.

Indeed the Depression Alliance has called upon the government to make depression a public health priority to prevent the growing burden to the NHS and the wider economy,

Furthermore, statistical data reveals that one in 10 men will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Fourteen per cent of adults in the UK suffer from depression and/or anxiety at any one time, costing the economy an estimated £12bn every year, according to the London School of Economics.

Nevertheless, the report is also calling on all NHS officials to ensure that the full range of high-quality medical and non-medical services recommended by Nice that are available across the country.

The chief executive of Depression Alliance, Emer O’Neill, says, “Choice is not a reality for most people with depression and anxiety. While there are some excellent GPs and some well-informed patients, there are huge numbers of people who are sinking because they are brushed off, not taken seriously and walk away from the doctor empty-handed apart from a prescription.

“Choice is at the heart of the proposed NHS constitution, but people with depression cannot choose if they are not given the right information. GPs must be better informed about the range of services that can help a person with depression and have easy access to these.”

It has been suggested that 90% of people who seek help are treated by their GP. The number of antidepressants prescriptions reached 31 million in England in 2006, despite guidelines recommending that alternative treatments be tried first for those people with less severe depression.

The Government has committed £173m on improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) over the next three years to increase the number of cognitive behavioural therapists (CBT) working with GPs.

Phil Hope, care services minister, said: “A total of 35 areas of the country have already set up these services and 81 more are due in the autumn. Every primary care trust in the country will have begun to introduce the expansion of talking therapists by next year.”

However it has been argued that some experts are concerned that the focus on CBT will be at the expense of existing services. The Depression Alliance points to the benefits of self-help groups, good nutrition, physical exercise and other therapies, such as family therapy.

The president of the Royal College of GPs, Steve Field, states I’m surprised that it’s as high as 50 per cent but I’m not surprised that some patients don’t feel part of their treatment plan. GPs should do everything they can to ensure decisions are made in partnership with patients and that they follow Nice guidelines.”

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