Antidepressants can be effective when prescribed appropriately - but access to alternative mental health treatments needs to be improved

Responding to the announcement of new draft NICE guidance on deprescribing antidepressants.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“When prescribed appropriately, antidepressants can be an effective treatment for many patients. Suffering from mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. But wherever possible we don’t want patients to have to rely on medication long term, and most patients don’t want that either.

“GPs are highly trained to have frank and sensitive conversations with our patients. Outlining the benefits and risks of different treatment options, when developing a treatment plan, will always consider clinical guidelines and the various factors potentially impacting on an individual patient’s health. We will also have regular medication reviews with patients to ensure their treatment plan is still optimal. Whether there are opportunities to reduce dosages or stop taking medication altogether. This NICE guidance should be helpful in this respect.

“If a patient wants to stop taking medication or reduce their dose, they should never do this before speaking to their GP or the clinician who has prescribed them their medication.

“It's concerning to hear that the services provided are not reaching patients from ethnic minority communities and we need to work harder to address this, build trust and find ways to empower these patient groups to use the services that are available.

"More generally, what we do need to see improved is access to alternative mental health treatments in the community right across the country – and for staffing in general practice to be addressed, including increasing numbers of mental health therapists.

"The College looks forward to examining the draft NICE guidelines and the evidence behind them, and contributing the views of our members during the consultation stage."

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 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.