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Depression is "over diagnosed"

Too many people are being diagnosed with depression, an expert says inside the British Journal of Medicine.

Professor Gordon Parker, a psychiatrist from Australia, has spoken out saying the current threshold for "clinical depression" diagnosis is too low.

He fears that this is leading to depression diagnoses becoming less credible.

Professor Parker's own cohort study followed 242 teachers, of whom 79% met criteria for major, minor or sub-syndromal depression.

He argues that clinical depression has become over diagnosed ever since it was split into "major" and "minor" disorders in the 1980s.

He says we risk medicalising "normal human distress" and viewing any expression of depression as necessary of treatment."

"Depression will remain a non-specific 'catch all' diagnosis until common sense prevails," he says.

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I welcome this debate and I think depression is actually under diagnosed, especially in mid-life females who are told 'its your age, get over it'. I would like to see much more listening therapies available on the NHS, along with NLP and hypnotherapy. Drugs just switch off symptoms and pile on side effects" - Pam Alford, London

"Maybe the criiteria for the diagnosis of depression is low, however as the GP appointment system stands with most practices, there is too little time for a GP to adequately assess a person with depression or someone who is just 'sad'. Having lost two young members of my extended family (both young men) I feel that more time should be given to counselling and not immediate medication - Name and address supplied

"Yes I do, but I think people relate depression to new mothers. People get depressed because of financial difficulty and problems with relationships as well. More help is needed for these people" - Name and address supplied

"While agreeing we need to scrutinise the claims of big pharma and avoid the medicalising of any distess, having suffered severe, disabling depression and lost a brother to it, I can confirm that it can very painful, and that it does respond to medication. I agree that individual behaviour can contribute to distress but that cultural, economic and political factors are also involved" - Name and address supplied

"Of course it is! big pharma are creating new markets wherever they can and are cashing in on the 'expert' culture and the growing trend towards blame and not owning personal responsibility amongst the masses. Distress is a part of all our lives but I feel that our tolerance and acceptance is lessening for many reasons. As long as psychiatry is driven by symptom diagnoses and relief we can all conveniently ignore causal factors, e.g. how we relate to each other, disparity, prejudice, oppression, power etc." - Mr Kim Sherrington, Bristol