– Chris Dowrick claims half of patients labelled depressed were misdiagnosed
– Liverpool University professor calls on diagnosis guidelines to be tightened
– Patients ‘becoming reliant on drugs they don’t need’
– Mental health charities reject research – and say more people are being diagnosed due to pressure from debt and unemployment
Millions of patients are being wrongly diagnosed with depression when they are simply sad, according to a new report.
Anti-depressants are being dished out to people grieving loved ones, suffering sexual problems or even unable to sleep, claims a newly-published scientific paper published by academics at Liverpool Unversity.
The number of people diagnosed with mental illnesses like depression has doubled since 2002. It is believed more than five million people are now labelled depressed or suffering anxiety in the UK.
Liverpool University’s Professor of Primary Medical Care, Chris Dowrick, claims in a new report that up to half of these patients have been misdiagnosed.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the academic, who also works as a GP, said: ‘Over-diagnosis is now more common than under diagnosis.’
He has called for guidelines on diagnosing depression to be tightened and for pharmaceutical companies to be banned from marketing their drugs to GPs.
‘Over recent decades there has been an increasing tendency, especially in primary care, to diagnose depression in patients presenting with sadness or distress and offer them anti-depressant medication,’ he wrote.
‘For GPs a diagnosis of depression may be an attractive instrument for managing uncertainty in the consulting room, especially as its commonest treatment comes in the form of a once-daily pill and is encouraged by clinical guidelines and indicators.
‘But these pills won’t work for people with mild depression, or who are sad, but they have side effects and we are seeing patients becoming reliant on drugs they do not need.’
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