Are antidepressants helpful for only severe depression?
Posted Thursday 14 January 2010
Making the news in the USA is research that indicates that mild and moderate depression are not lifted by antidepressants, which are only useful for severe depression (though the research methodology has come in for some critcism).
The research concludes that if a person experiences mild or moderate depression then medication should be just one of the options available.
This side of the pond, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines already states that antidepressants should not be the first choice in treating mild depression but may be of use for people with a past history of moderate or severe depression.
Of course guidance and practice aren’t always in step and it was reported last year that prescriptions for antidepressants are on the rise and recently that GPs prescribe antidepressants even if they feel another treatment might be more beneficial as that treatment is not as readily accessible.
The government had pledged £173 million towards mental health care. The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) scheme is designed to combat the reliance on prescribing medication for mental distress by offering accessible alternatives. There is some uncertainty over how the scheme is faring, with reports late last year that it has experienced difficulties, including only 400 of the required 3,600 therapists trained, although IAPT disputes this figure and other aspects of the article.
With any luck headlines about the best treatment options for depression and will strengthen the government’s resolve to keep supporting a wide range of treatment options for the millions who experience depression and other mental health problems.
Bridget O'Connell, Head of Information
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