Brits suffering from mild depression should not be prescribed pills by doctors

An NHS watchdog says that GPs should refrain from prescribing pills for mild depression. Instead, they should encourage Brits to do exercise, meditation, and other therapies.

One in five adults felt low during the peak of pandemic. This was because cases rose during lockdown.

England already has one of the world’s highest rates of anti-depressant use

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England already has one of the world’s highest rates of anti-depressant use

England already has one of the world’s highest rates of anti-depressant use, with more than seven million people using the drugs.

New draft guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advise medics to not to follow them. “routinely offer anti-depressant medication as first-line treatment for less severe depression”.

Instead, doctors should present a “menu” of options to patients with mild to moderate symptoms – including exercise, talking therapies, mindfulness or meditation.

The NHS should only prescribe antidepressants if the above methods fail or the patient insists.


This guidance advises that GPs slowly wean Brits off drugs to avoid relapse.

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the centre for guidelines at Nice, said: “People with depression deserve and expect the best treatment from the NHS which is why this guideline is urgently required.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the impact depression has had on the nation’s mental health.” Around 17 per cent of adults experienced some form of depression over the summer – down from 21 per cent during lockdown.

Before the pandemic, the rates were about ten per cent.

And NHS prescribing data reveals that more than 20 million antidepressants were dole out between October and December 2020 – a 6 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2019.

This guidance advises doctors to talk with patients about mental health waiting lists and to be open about any delays.

A Royal College of Psychiatrists spokesperson 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.”

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