Free antidepressants and prescription drugs to be reviewed

December 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Antidepressants


This week concerns have been raised over free antidepressants and pain killers. A leading charity has stated that the death rate from prescription drugs is rising and has called for free prescriptions in Wales to be reviewed.

Clive Wolfendale, chief executive, of Cais, a charity which helps people with addiction and mental health issues spoke to BBC Radio Wales following the release of a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee. He said “As the report points out the death rate is increasing among this (prescription drugs) category and in Wales it is twice the UK average – very worrying.

“We are talking here about anti-depressants and pain killers that are being misused for purposes other than medicinal.

“And they’re freely available and in Wales they’re free and that’s a real problem.”

Free antidepressants: Over prescribed

What this report reminds us of once again is that antidepressants are being hugely over prescribed. Last year figures showed that approximately 47 million prescriptions were issued for antidepressants which was a 9% increase on the year before which is frankly shocking.


What makes it worse is that the National institute for Health and Clinical excellence (NICE) have recommended that GP s should only prescribe antidepressant medication for severe cases of depression. 

Free antidepressants: The Cycle

Unfortunately users of antidepressants often become trapped in the cycle of taking them for many years when their problems could have been helped with a talking therapy.

Sarah- Jane was first prescribed antidepressant meds for depression when she was 16-years-old and still at school. At the time she thought she would only be on them for a short while. Her GP kept her under review but didn’t suggest stopping the medication or exploring other options.

Two years later Sarah-Jane approached her doctor about stopping her medication. Her GP helped her to gradually reduce the antidepressants but Sarah-Jane was blind-sided by all the nasty side effects she experienced. “The unbelievable dizziness was the worst thing,” she said.

Sarah-Jane persevered until she was off the antidepressants however approximately a year later her depression had returned. Sarah-Jane was now at university and had a different doctor. She asked to be referred for therapy. Her GP agreed but said it would be months until she could get an appointment. Since Sarah-Jane needed help immediately he also gave her a prescription for antidepressants.

Sarah-Jane moved before her appointment for therapy came through. “I didn’t follow up the idea of therapy because to be honest the antidepressants were letting me live a normal life. My new GP said it was OK to stay on a low dose for the rest of my life if that’s what I needed. She said some people just had an imbalance which needed correcting.”

Free antidepressants: Considering therapy

Sarah-Jane stayed on antidepressants until she met her husband to be when she was 30. “He was very supportive but felt I ought to address the problems underlying my depression. I realised he was right and the thought that I might be able to live without medication after all these years was great. I knew the tablets dulled my senses and made me extra sleepy.

“I spoke to my doctor and explained my situation and why I felt the need to try therapy. My doctor agreed and recommended a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) which is a talking therapy. It’s a process but I’m no longer on antidepressants and feel I have the knowledge and tools to deal with the thoughts and behaviours that used to lead to my depression.”

Free antidepressants: Addressing the cause

Antidepressants have their place but they don’t help the patient address the cause of the problem. For that you need therapy.

In Sarah-Jane’s case the initial wait for therapy was unacceptable. Once you decide to get started with therapy it’s understandable that you want to get started right away. Sometimes waiting lists to see a therapist are long but there are other options.

Free antidepressants: Computerised CBT

There are free cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) exercises online and complete computerised CBT programs which you can access from home such as Blues Begone and Mood Control.

Research has shown that Blues Begone was able to remove  60% of users from the clinical depression category (they were cured) and 50% of users from the clinical anxiety category (cured of anxiety). In addition it helped others make substantial clinical gains.

By taking your recovery in to your own hands you also gain a sense of empowerment. Frank who recently completed a course of CBT said, “Things have been tough over the last few months. My contract came to an end and I’ve been unable to find permanent work. Before CBT I would have sunk in to a depression but this time I haven’t and I don’t think I ever will again because of what I have learned.”

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The Antidepressant Era: Is England a nation on antidepressant meds?

September 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Antidepressants, Blues Begone

In England a nation on anti-depressatns

Anti-depressant prescribing is far too high

This has been described as the antidepressant era. And you might well wonder if England is a nation on antidepressant meds.

Well, the National institute for Health and Clinical excellence (NICE) have recommended that GP s should only prescribe antidepressant medication for severe cases of depression because it is not cost effective otherwise.

Indeed, the research data do not support the use of antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression because they are not very helpful at all.

But clearly GPs feel the need to give a patient something that may have the potential to be useful which has led to this being dubbed the antidepressant era. But of course hope of a treatment through placebo effects is not the best clinical strategy. The NICE guidance is that a talking therapy or a self help tool such as Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) be offered.

The Antidepressant Era: How common is depression

I looked into the whole issue of the antidepressant era a bit further so I could lay the bigger picture before you. The lifetime prevalence of mixed anxiety and depression for men,aged between 16 – 74  is estimated to be 9.1% of the population while for women it is 13.6% of the total population (source: Depression: The treatment and management of depression in adults: National Clinical Practice Guideline 90 NICE 2010, p.22).

Yet the level of antidepressant medication prescribing in some cities and towns is far above what might be expected based on these data. GPs are massively over-prescribing antidepressants we know this because the NICE guidance says don’t prescribe unless the depression is severe and we know from the data collected by the National Comorbidity survey that there are many less severely depressed people that prescriptions for anti depressants issued monthly.

Therefore GPs are prescribing antidepressants in preference to the treatment that is supposed to be offered. That is either computerised CBT or talking therapies. I hold the view that GPs are well meaning and committed to the well being of their patients. Therefore they must be over prescribing because they feel they need to, probably through lack of effective alternatives.

The Antidepressant Era: Is the doctor always right?

Is your doctor always right?

Is your doctor always right about the best psychological treatment?

As a member of the general public I rely on my doctor to know what to do if I have a medical problem! I am generally a well informed person (especially about matters psychological) but when it comes to skin problems, or cancer, of heart problems then I am no better informed than the general layman. I reply on my GP. But if the GP cannot offer what is recommended and known to be effective then this reliance is misplaced.

Some primary care trusts in the UK have tiny levels of therapists trained and ready to offer you CBT therapy should you want that as an alternative to antidepressant meds. If you live in one of the poorly provided zones for face to face therapy such as Hillingdon, Croydon, Stockton on Tees, Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, Luton and many others then you need to take a degree of control over your own mental health issues. There is no alternative if you want to feel better any time soon.

Suppose your GP was doing their best but only had poor options to choose from! In some places in the country there is very little in the way of face to face talking therapies. There are no viable alternatives on offer from the NHS other than a long waiting list. Not a very attractive option when you have a pressing need for help with depression and anxiety.

The Antidepressant Era: Take responsibility for your own mental health

I believe that it is time to take more responsibility for your own mental health care. For cancer I probably say leave it to the doctors and the same with broken bones. But where your own well being, happiness and satisfaction with life are concerned; take more control.

My research, some of which is recently published in the journal Primary Care Today (Autumn 2013, pp28-29 Treating Depression – Are Therapists Out of Date?) shows that when you take control over your own depression or anxiety treatment you can finish with antidepressants, achieve good mental health and remain well.

Data from the article showed that Blues Begone was able to remove  60% of users from the clinical depression category (they were cured) and 50% of users from the clinical anxiety category (cured of anxiety). In addition it helped others make substantial clinical gains.

When we use the broader definition of clinical outcome favoured by the IAPT Talking Therapies organisation then we can state that with Blues Begone 70% of depressed users achieved clinically significant change and 60% of anxious users achieved clinically significant change.

There is a power in committing to and taking control over your own well-being that puts your efforts into stellar orbit. What you can achieve is only limited by your commitment to the process of feeling good again.

The Antidepressant Era: Blues Begone

Blues Begone

Blues Begone is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety

Blues Begone is a computerised CBT program that delivers 30 sessions of CBT therapy to you over a periods of 8 – 12 weeks. Blues Begone is usually delivered on a DVD that holds the program. You install it once and then it starts to learn about you. Blues Begone creates a unique treatment Roadmap to Recovery that takes you all the way from depression to wellness.

All you have to do is a little bit every day. Furthermore Blues Begone is engaging and interesting. See the comments of users who were interviewed after completing the program. They really enjoyed using Blues Begone while at the same time recovering from depression and anxiety.

Blues Begone offers a unique money back guarantee. Feel better or your money back.

Money Back Guarantee
Use this link or the button below to gain access to Blues Begone right now.


References used in this article


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Botox as a depression treatment

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When looking for a depression treatment you most likely don’t even consider Botox; that’s for lines and wrinkles, isn’t it? Well, Dermatologist Dr Eric Finzi has published a book arguing that how your face looks plays a role in how you feel.

The connection between facial expression and emotion is not a new idea. Indeed there is quite a bit of research on what is called the ‘facial feedback hypothesis.’

Singer, Dannii Minogue spoke publicly about her use of botox following the death of her best friend and while her sister had breast cancer. She said she felt sad and depressed and didn’t want to look at her face.

Botox as a depression treatment

Why botox is used as a depression treatment

A substantial quantity of research has suggested that the expression of emotion can be changed through a process of feedback from facial muscles. In fact going deeper into the field of body feedback shows it is not only your facial expressions but also your whole body posture that affect how you feel.

The original idea that physical feedback affected emotion was originally proposed by Charles Darwin. But now there is experimental evidence for the validity of this view and of course we have all heard that smiling when you are down is beneficial.

Change your expression; change your mood

botox-as-a-depression-treatmentThe academic research on the facial feedback hypothesis does support the common sense view that changing your facial muscle positions affects your emotions. If you feel down this will be reflected on the canvas of your face. The effect of expressing your emotions on your face seems to be to increase the intensity of the emotion. So if you feel down and you also look down your total experience is of an increased or more intense experience of emotion. Conversely if you feel happy and you also reflect this good mood on your face this will increase the overall experience of happiness.

How Botox works as a depression treatment

The important point that Dr Finzi wants to emphasise is that if you inhibit the facial expression of low mood or depression then it can often reduce the overall intensity of the emotion. Dr Finzi’s proposed solution is to freeze the face with botox to prevent the muscles that create the furrowed eyebrows and frown from functioning. No frown equals lessened experience of low mood.

A different viewpoint

I take no issues with the science used as evidence in Dr Finzi’s book nor do I argue with the facial feedback hypothesis research, but I do take a different viewpoint altogether:

In my view depression is a consequence of something else. It is an outcome not a first cause. Therefore if you treat the outcome with some form of medical intervention then you do not change the cause of the problem.

This is the same argument I have with the seemingly overuse of antidepressant meds. The United States Center for Disease Control andThe Powerful Placebo Effect Prevention has stated that the use of antidepressant drugs has soared nearly 400% since 1988, making the medication the most frequently used by people ages 18-44.

My view is that antidepressants purport to treat depression and anxiety but they only treat the outcome they do not touch the cause of low mood or depression which is why there is a high relapse rate following cessation of these drugs.

In fairness the pharmaceutical industry would state that they believe that depression is a biological problem that results from hypothesised chemical imbalances in the brain. But this remains a hypothesis without conclusive proof of its validity.

Treat the cause

Therefore Dr Finzi;s work and the work of others that it is build follows in the tradition of treating a problem that is caused by something else. Why not treat the actual problem instead?

The most effective depression treatment

botox-as-a-depression-treatment-happy-girlCBT therapy provides the most clinically effective depression treatment.

There are no side effects from CBT therapy and because you learn about the causes of depression and how to treat it you gain something valuable you can keep.

Knowledge and wisdom, these twins will keep you safe and help you steer clear of low mood and depression in the future.

It’s better to stamp on depression by learning what causes it and how to defeat it.

Make it irrelevant to your life journey. Then you won’t have to freeze your face for the whole of your life and you will still be able to smile when you want to.

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