Are pills the answer?

With the number of prescription antidepressants at an all time high perhaps its time to start looking into alternative treatments?

Unfortunately not all doctors are trained mental health professionals and little have the resources to refer depressed patients to psychotherapy before reaching for the prescription pad.

In 2008 there were 36 million prescriptions for antidepressants, compared to just 18 millions ten years earlier. By 2020 it is predicted that depression is going to be the UK’s biggest health problem, with figures soaring above cancer and heart disease and the recession only furthering the issue.

It might genuinely be the case that prescription medication is the best option for you and in the event you are given this type of medication your GP needs to give you a long term plan so you know how long to expect to be on the drugs and what support you will receive when coming off them. Although they are not addictive withdrawal side effects will occur. You should have a review set up with the GP for a couple of weeks after you began taking the medication and its helpful to keep a list of any side effects so medication can be altered if needed.

However, why not consider some alternatives for cases of mild and moderate depression. For example St John’s Wort (which is available from health food shops) is widely prescribed for depression in Germany and is recognised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Research also shows that exercising for 30 minutes a day significantly improves symptoms of depression with even ten minutes per day boosting your mood.

Certain charities such as Mind and Rethink can put you in touch with walking groups, gym buddies and boxing clubs depending on where you live. Both charities also offer discounted or free counselling such as cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, which helps you to change negative thought processes.

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Written by Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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