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GPs 'need alternatives for depression treatment'

5th January 2010

New research has found that the majority of GPs have prescribed medication for depression when they believed another treatment would be more effective.

A study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation found three-quarters of doctors used a medication-based approach with long-term depression patients because treatments they thought might be more appropriate were not available.

More than 90 per cent of GPs want a greater availability of alternatives to medication in the treatment of the condition, with 72 per cent claiming that 'mindfulness-based cognitive therapy' (MBCT) would be effective for some of their mental health patients.

The charity also pointed out that MBCT has been approved for the treatment of recurrent depression by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence since 2004, but just one in five family doctors say all their patients can access it regularly.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Dr Andrew McCulloch said: 'Mindfulness-based therapy could be helping to prevent thousands of people from relapsing into depression every year.'

Last month, the government launched the New Horizons strategy, which will overhaul the support given to people with mental health conditions.

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