“Britain is becoming a nation addicted to antidepressants because doctors are too quick to prescribe medication for mental illness, experts have said.
GPs are 46 times more likely to prescribe medication for depression and other mental illnesses instead of suggesting exercise, which has been shown to be no less effective in some cases.
Research commissioned by the charity Nuffield Health also found that mental illness appeared to have risen sharply in the past five years. Davina Deniszczyc, Medical Director at Nuffield Health, said: “To offer workable support early on, when a patient experiences the first signs of mental distress, such as increased anxiety and low mood, may mean preventing a more serious depression taking hold.”
The survey of 2,000 people showed that 44 per cent had anxiety symptoms regularly, an increase from 33 per cent when the recession hit in 2008. The number of people suffering from low mood had risen to 39 per cent from 31 per cent five years ago.
Nuffield Health called on doctors to provide advice about exercise for mental health, in the same way that they would describe its advantages for heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Mark Porter, a GP, said that the report overstated the evidence for the benefits of exercise. “It’s no better than any other treatment we have and it’s certainly not something I would prescribe for a patient at the more serious end of depression, which is a life-threatening disease.”
Only 1 per cent of those visiting their GP were recommended exercise, the research found, compared with 46 per cent who were prescribed medication. Only 4 per cent of patients said they would rather be prescribed medication, if given the choice.
The Cochrane Review, which assesses medical evidence, estimates that only one in seven people benefits from taking antidepressants. It found that exercise was moderately more effective than no therapy for reducing symptoms of depression — but that when only the highest quality studies were included, the effect was less conclusive…..”
We have already commented in NHSreality that Psychiatry is a good area to reduce expenditure on drugs and replace with counselling – but this should to be overt and the drugs need to be rationed out of the care of most patients. The use of budgets for the replacement of drugs with people seems eminently sensible, apart from certain psychotic and cyclothymic (Manic) conditions.
16 October 2013 Nick Triggle Health correspondent, BBC News reports:
Bertram Russell’s approach was revealed when he wrote In his 1932 essay, “In Praise of Idleness”: he reckoned that if society were better managed the average person would only
need to work four hours a day”…..
The Economist article linking productivity and work (Economist Working hours) is food for thought for doctors asked to work longer hours.