Depression patients urged to get help before drugs

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Exercise may not always be an effective treatment, the report warns People suffering from depression should be offered either exercise or therapy before prescribing drugs, new NHS guidance…

Depression patients urged to get help before drugs

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Exercise may not always be an effective treatment, the report warns

People suffering from depression should be offered either exercise or therapy before prescribing drugs, new NHS guidance says.

Endocrine and mood disorders are often associated with mood swings, but much of the treatment is dominated by medication.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says people must not be left with “an unrelenting cycle of medication.”

In addition, the guidelines also say poor quality and delay in starting prescriptions lead to unnecessary negative health effects.

They urge GP’s to improve treatment continuity for patients to reduce “unnecessary anxiety” and prescribing.

Warning

The guidance is meant to help mental health services to better cope with the needs of more than 300,000 young people who experience mood problems each year in England.

Surgery, counselling and counselling services are reaching double their size over the past 15 years as the number of people going for help has tripled to over a million.

However, current NHS treatment “does not go far enough to prevent or preventively treat mental ill health disorders”, says the royal college, and experts believe “education, personal responsibility and the use of evidence-based therapies are key components of successful mental health services”.

The article concludes: “The tide is turning, though much work still needs to be done to provide mental health services that act as a foundation for recovery, disability-free life and healthy ageing, not just an intermittent cure.

“We need an NHS that is truly mentally fit.”

Find out more about mental health issues here .

What are the findings of the guideline?

Individuals with significant endocrine depression (a diagnosis including anorexia nervosa and high blood pressure) should be offered exercise therapy first, if possible

If not exercise, these patients should be offered psycho-education about the root causes of low mood and their treatment

GPs should offer a mood stabilising drug to patients with depression from the age of 12. This must include antidepressants, non-hormonal drugs, cognitive behavioural therapy and mood stabilising drugs, depending on the patient’s presentation, symptoms and prior history

GPs should stop prescribing medication once three to four months without further symptoms occurs

GPs should offer psychotherapy or other mental health support to people with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder unless those are well enough to leave medication

Non-depressant medication should only be prescribed to people who are considered a “high priority patient” – those who have been in remission for at least a year

If the patient is not well enough to move to psychotherapy or other services the patient should be referred to GPs for repeat advice. If that advice continues to have little improvement the GP should refer them to specialist services

If high blood pressure symptoms are recurring the GP must consider prescribing another anti-platelet drug and if the person is also depressed or suicidal the GP should also prescribe anti-depressants and if deemed necessary prophylactic treatment of TB or the other management of a similar mental illness

The guideline also includes new recommendations about prescribing and related issues, such as information on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, inflammatory bowel disease and allergies.

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