Sunday, December 31, 2006

Depression: the great happy pill betrayal

The Christmas holiday period is the toughest time of year for many. More people commit suicide during the festive season, and the Samaritans helpline expects to receive a call every six seconds as people confront their loneliness or mounting debts.

At this time of celebration, it is a sobering thought that, as a nation, we are becoming less successful at beating misery - and that's a year-round problem.

• Depressed or stressed?

The statistics make pretty grim reading. Across the UK, more people than ever are suffering from depression. One in ten people is depressed at any one time, affecting one in three families. Every 14 minutes, someone in the UK kills themselves, and depression is one of the main causes.
At the same time, depression and chronic anxiety cost the taxpayer £7 billion a year. Add to that the £12billion in lost productivity - or 1 per cent of our total national income - and it's clear depression is not a problem merely for the individual.

So what are we doing to tackle this problem? Not enough, say the experts. Doctors have agreed a step-by-step approach to tackling depression which recommends all patients should be offered a short course (ten to 12 weeks) of psychological treatment or 'talking therapy'.

The guidelines, drawn up in 2004 by the Government's treatment advisory body NICE, recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - a form of therapy that helps people recognise unhappiness triggers and develop coping strategies.

Research has shown that talking therapies work just as well as antidepressant drugs in the short term, but in the long term they are more effective at preventing relapse.

However, a Mail investigation has found these guidelines are being consistently ignored, because talking therapies are not funded across the NHS.

Source - Daily Mail



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