Depression pill culture must stop, medics told
By Kate Pickles Health Editor
DOCTORS have been urged to prescribe fewer antidepressants to patients with mild mental health issues to curb an overreliance on pills.
Prescriptions have doubled in the past decade, with 5.6million in the last year, despite poor outcomes and potential harm, such as dependence.
Now members of the Beyond Pills All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), experts and patient representatives want to reverse the rate, which is said to cost the NHS £5 million a year, and often fails to tackle the root causes of problems.
In an open letter to the British Medical Journal, they said ‘a pill for every ill’ must stop and called for a 24-hour prescribed drug withdrawal helpline.
GP Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the College of Medicine, said: ‘It is time to de-medicalise mental health and to liberate our patients to find non-drug solutions that work for them.’
These include lifestyle changes and social prescribing, such as gardening and volunteering.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘Up to £2.3billion in extra funding is being invested by the Government until 2024 to expand services so two million more people, including 345,000 children and young people, can get the mental health support they need.’
‘De-medicalise mental health’
THE statistics make disturbing reading. More than 85million antidepressant prescriptions were given out in England last year, almost double the number in 2011.
The time patients are left on these drugs has also doubled, despite the risks of dependency and side effects such as bleeding, weight gain and sexual dysfunction.
Yet overall mental health outcomes have not improved. Indeed, by some measures they have worsened. As the chairman of the College of Medicine puts it in the Mail today: ‘We have medicalised unhappiness.’
Today, a new action group, including nine professors of medicine and psychology, has written an open letter urging Government intervention. They call for an end to prescribing antidepressants for new patients with mild conditions, plus greater funding of withdrawal services.
This paper, which has long campaigned for use of antidepressants to be reduced, is fully behind them and urges ministers to heed their troubling warnings.
dmg media (UK)