Research should reassure patients, and GPs, that antidepressants are effective, says College

Publication date: 21 February 2018

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to a study in The Lancet, which found that antidepressants are more effective than placebo at treating acute depression in adults.

She said: "Taking antidepressants is frequently portrayed as a negative thing or something done only when other therapies are not available or have failed, but this in itself can add to the unfortunate stigma that sometimes exists around people with mental health conditions.

"This research should reassure patients who are taking or are contemplating commencing antidepressants, and the doctors that prescribe them, that they are an effective treatment for depression in the short-term.

"Depression is a significant mental illness which, if left untreated or unmanaged, can cause a huge amount of distress for a patient, their family and friends. It should never be swept under the carpet or ignored.

"Although antidepressants are of proven benefit - as this study shows - no doctor wants their patients to become reliant on medication so where possible, GPs will explore alternative treatments, such as talking therapies or CBT, which can be of great benefit for some patients.

"However, these services are often hard to come by in the community and we need better, quicker access to them if we're able to deliver the level of care we want to for all NHS patients.

"NHS England's GP Forward View pledged that every GP practice in England will have access to one of 3,000 new mental health therapists.

"We need this, and its other promises, including an extra £2.4bn a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs, to be delivered, in full, as a matter of urgency, with similar promises made and delivered in the devolved nations, so that we can continue to provide the best possible mental health services to our patients, regardless of where they live."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633/7410
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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