‘The iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found‘ > So quoted one of our clients following our last Posting. Sadly though too few have taken up ironing therapy, or indeed any complementary therapy, as the number of long-term users of antidepressants in England has topped four million.
However, a leading mental health researcher at the University of Sheffield says, “Professionals may be becoming slightly less certain about the benefits of antidepressants for mild depression and patients themselves may be declining medication.”
Reasons for the pill fight back might be that individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to access GP services to discuss mental health issues, or that the issues are not discussed due to time constraints or other pressures. Another explanation could be the rise in so-called talking therapies, such as CBT and those offered by Tonic, or the ever growing popularity of relaxation techniques, like mindfulness and yoga.
“Despite the depressing statistics, there seems to be a glimmer of hope that psychological treatments are a better way of treating depression than dosing up on drugs,” says a Tonic therapist. “There is certainly a rise in awareness of the benefits of exercise and other social measures for tackling depression, which come under the heading of social prescriptions.
The statistics are a bitter pill to swallow
“It all comes down to education. Just think, of those seven million people who were prescribed anti-depressant pills last year, not one was cured. All these drugs do is suppress the symptoms, whereas hypnotherapy tackles the cause. What is important is establishing WHY someone is depressed in the first place. Often a few simple lifestyle changes can take a depressed person off these pills for life”.
However, to be fair, statistics showing increased prescribing of antidepressants should not automatically be seen as negative. It is likely that more patients are now willing to discuss their mental health problems with a healthcare professional. Ultimately this is a good thing and a step towards parity with physical health issues.
But what is really required is cultural change. Just as antibiotics are being cut back, anti-depressants need to be prescribed as a last resort. The problem is that patients go to their doctor with an expectation that they will come out with a pot of pills*. As the doctor’s time is precious, it is far easier to give their patient what they want, rather than start talking about causes and other therapies.
But still, the tide has started to turn.