Under new draft guidance from The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) GPs are being told to not offer antidepressants in the first instance to those with mild depression.
The recommendations, which are subject to consultation, come after previous research from the NHS in October showed that more than 300 people a day are attending A&E complaining about depression. In the past year, the most popular complaint among 114,000 patients in emergency departments was “feeling depressed”. NHS prescribing data reveals that more than 20 million antidepressants were given out between October and December. According to the Office of National Statistics, around one in six adults aged 16 years and over in Great Britain experienced some form of depression in summer 2021.
When asked about the new guidance, a Royal College of Psychiatrists spokesman said, “We support a range of treatment options being available for those suffering from depression, including psychological therapies and antidepressant medication depending on the severity of the symptoms. Depression is different for everyone, some people might experience mild symptoms for a limited time while others might become severely unwell for longer periods.”
A spokesman for NICE said, “Nothing will change for people under the supervision of a health professional, that are already on antidepressants. So for them, nothing changes. The guidelines are for people seeking new treatment or those looking to come back to treatment.”
Professor Catherine Loveday, a specialist in cognitive neuroscience, has said in response to the draft guidance from NICE, “This is a really good step in the right direction. The important thing to remember with depression is that it’s a really complex condition which means that there are many factors that influence it. It’s important that when we come to look for ways to treat depression we are taking into account that there are so many of these individual differences and people will respond differently. These NICE guidelines are collaborative… the patient can work through menu of options to try and work out what would be right for them.”
If you, or someone you know, is suffering with symptoms of depression, please see the resources listed below for further help.
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI – this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
- CALM offers a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email [email protected]
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.