Is depression well treated?

The Government commissioned a report into depression a few years ago. The conclusion was overwhelming – that people were more likely to get much better if they had therapy than if they took antidepressants.

Consequently it was suggested that people with mild to moderate depression were given CBT – cognitive behaviour therapy – which is a quicker fix than psychotherapy and gives people coping mechanisms to make them feel better. It works very well but there was one major problem – there were not many therapists available.

So the government suggested that 20,000 were trained. Nothing much more has been said about this for the last couple of years, but as far as I know nothing has changed. You go to the GPs because you’re depressed and you are given anti-depressants. There may be some exceptions to this, but not many.

NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) also recommended that people could get access to treatment with the use of a CBT software program, but there seems little evidence that this has happened.

Consequently you are given very strong drugs that suppress the problem for the moment and make you feel better. If you want to give them up what happens? The problem resurfaces or you have such withdrawal symptoms that you have to carry on taking them, whatever the guidelines given by the manufacturer say.

There are occasions when someone has been through a terrible trauma where they need anti-depressants to get them through the day, but in 9/10 cases people can be helped with talking therapies. The sad truth is that unless they can get these from their GP, a local charity or if they or anyone close to them has cancer, they will have to pay for therapy.

I understand that it would be more cost-effective to give people talking therapies than to keep them on prescription drugs for years on end. It makes you wonder why people are still getting the same treatment at the doctor’s as they were 30 years ago when Valium was in vogue.

Sales of tranquillizers enabled a leading pharma company in Switzerland to create an entire street of office buildings. Perhaps that’s the answer to why nothing ever changes!

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