SHOULD MEDICATION BE A FIRST CONSIDERATION OR A LAST RESORT?
Janet Hitchcock voices her concerns about the over-use of antidepressants. Many people, she claims, need someone to talk to – not a pill!
As a Counsellor in Essex I have met many clients who have been diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants. Very often this has happened after a mere 2 minutes with their GP, and before I am accused of criticising the medical profession, I hold my hands up to being a novice in this department. But what I do know for certain is that many of these patients, although diagnosed correctly, are prescribed a medication which they most certainly do not need. What they do need is someone to talk to: someone to spend time with them and to help them to find their own answers. They need a Counsellor, not a pill.
Of course, we must appreciate that there is most definitely a place for antidepressants in a world which is often harsh and difficult to cope with. These drugs are often the safety net which keeps patients from sliding into their darkest places, and I understand that in this blame culture society, there is an argument for prescribing to all who present with depressive symptoms, in order to catch everyone in the safety net. But surely this must be weighed against the physical effects of antidepressants and the possible risk of long term use?
It seems that the only way our GPs can measure depression in surgery time is by asking the question “are you suicidal?” Sometimes it seems that whether the answer is yes or no, the prescription is the same! This is almost like prescribing pain killers to everyone who presents with a stomach ache.
Not for one minute would I berate our medical services, from which we get first class service for the amount it costs, but I would very much like to see mental problems given the same acute attention as physical ones, under the NHS. Discussion and reform are taking place slowly, but wouldn’t it be great to have a Counsellor or even two, in every GP surgery so that we could talk through our problems instead of going home with a box of pills?