Healing, and not just prescribing
February 29th 2008, 13:13 | Bryan Hubbard
The news this week that antidepressant drugs are no better than placebo underlines just how drug-dependent conventional medicine has become.
Even though researchers had to use the powers of America's freedom of information legislation in order to see antidepressant drug trials that had never been published, it's hardly been a secret that the drugs don't work too well.
It's also not a secret that the 'talking cures', such as cognitive behavioural therapy, work better than the antidepressants, especially in cases of mild to moderate depression. One study even found that patients fared better than drugs if they received a measly postcard from the hospital! It wasn't supposed to be an act of kindness from hospital administrators - it was just that there wasn't the staff available to phone the patient about the next appointment.
So if everyone has known about the poor response from the antidepressants and they've also known about the efficacy of therapy, why haven't doctors been pushing the 'talking cures' to patients?
It's certainly true that the lack of resource plays a part - but I suspect it is more down to the fact that the doctor is wedded to his prescription pad. It is, after all, a quick and easy response - even if it'll do little to help the patient.
I hope the latest antidepressant study makes the doctor stop and think. I also hope it might remind him about the reasons he took the arduous path to become a doctor in the first place - to heal, and not just to act as a drug company salesman.