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Saturday 22 October 2016 Instagram
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Depression is 'over-diagnosed'

Depression is 'over-diagnosed'

Depression is 'over-diagnosed'

People are increasingly being diagnosed and medicated for depression when they are suffering from grief or sadness, researchers have found. 

A study carried out by the University of Liverpool found that although the prevalence of depressive disorders is stable in the UK and US, rates of diagnosis have increased considerably. 

Anti-depressant prescriptions increased by 10% per year between 1998 and 2010, the researchers wrote in the BMJ. And in the US, 11% of over 11s were prescribed in anti-depressant drugs. 

Professor Chris Dowrick, from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society who also works as a GP, said: “Over diagnosis is now more common than under diagnosis. Evidence shows that anti-depressant medication has little or no effect on mild depression and the passing of time and other means of support generally make people feel better.

“In order to prevent unnecessary medication with its associated side-effects, risks and costs, the diagnostic criteria for defining depression need to be tightened up. Instead of prescribing medication, more attention needs to be given to support, advice, social networks and psychological interventions. GPs could then focus on those with serious mental health needs.”

The study is available to view on the BMJ website [paywalled]. 


There is a real dilemma for clinicians and for us all in how we regard mood disorders - even the term mood disorder as well as depression conveys a very medical model based notion for the high numbers of people dealing with stress and life adjustment issues. Depression is a very real condition and affects millions of people in the UK The incurred cost associated with depression is almost £8b per year and with claims that 1/4 of women will need antidepressant medication at some point in their lives confirms the need for accurate recognition of clinical, treatable depression as opposed to ordinary time limited low mood associated with a normal response to abnormal events or circumstances is key.
I will be presenting on this subject at both Belfast and Glasgow Nursing in Practice conferences in March and would strongly encourage anyone and everyone with an interest or with views to come along and share thoughts and ideas on this crucial area of need

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