Depression is over-diagnosed and over-treated, says top psychiatrist

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: mental health, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Leading mental health researcher Gordon Parker says that psychiatrists are too quick to diagnose and treat people for depression. Parker made his claims in an article in the British Medical Journal. Criticizing the current diagnosis guidelines as overly broad, Parker says that the term has now become a "catch-all" for a variety of normal emotional conditions.

"Over the last 30 years, the formal definitions for defining clinical depression have expanded into territory of normal depression, and the real risk is that the milder, more common experiences risk being pathologized," Parker writes.

A clinically depressed person feels so low that they are unable to carry out normal daily functions.

Parker is a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, and the director of the Black Dog Institute at Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick, an institution that focuses on treating mood disorders.

In his article, he expresses concern that too many people are being prescribed medication for normal mood lows that have no biological basis. In these cases, he says, drugs may be less effective and might even raise false hopes among patients.

Parker says that in a 15-year study of 242 teachers that he conducted, more than 75 percent met the criteria for clinical depression.

One in four Australian women and one in six men are thought to suffer depression at some point in their lives.

In an article in the same issue, Professor Ian Hickie argues that increased diagnosis is a positive thing, and has led to fewer suicides and a lessened stigma on mental illness.

According to Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, "Depression can be a complex and challenging condition ranging from feeling low to being so disabled that the person may be unable to get out of bed in the morning, sustain relationships or work. It is not surprising that with such a wide range of symptoms, identification varies from one doctor to another."

According to SANE, it is safer to err on the side of over-diagnosing, in order to reduce suicide risk. But the charity, not surprisingly, openly accepts donations from the very drug companies that profit from the over diagnosis of mental health disorders.

"There is no question," said Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, "that the current trend of diagnosing nearly every human emotion, condition and experience as a disease requiring chemical treatment is little more than a marketing scheme intended to sell more drugs."

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