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Doctors are over-diagnosing depression - and issuing drugs people don't need
About the author: 
WDDTY Team

If you think you have depression because your family doctor diagnosed you, the chances are you don't

If you think you have depression because your family doctor diagnosed you, the chances are you don't. General practitioners are misdiagnosing depression so dramatically that three times the number of people being diagnosed don't have the condition - and are being given powerful antidepressants unnecessarily.

But doctors could also be missing up to half of all cases of clinical depression, says Dr Alex Mitchell and his colleagues from the University of Leicester, who re-examined 41 trials into depression diagnosis.

The bottom line is that doctors just aren't qualified to accurately diagnose and identify cases of clinical depression. And when they do get it wrong and diagnose non-existent cases, the patient is ending up with powerful antidepressants that could be causing a range of side effects from loss of speech to depression itself.

But it's not just doctors at fault, says Mitchell. Other health professionals - and even hospital specialists - are also getting it wrong. When in doubt, clinicians often schedule a second appointment, something that general practitioners might also consider doing before reaching for their prescription pad.

(Source: The Lancet, 28 July 2009; doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60879-5).


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