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Sunday 23rd October 2016

Depression 'over-diagnosed'

17th August 2007

A leading psychiatrist has warned that too many people are being diagnosed with depression.


Professor Gordon Parker suggests that in many cases people are simply unhappy rather than clinically depressed.

Professor Parker, writing in the British Medical Journal, says he believes the threshold for clinical depression is too low and risks treating normal emotional states as illness. He labels depression a “catch-all� diagnosis that is being driven by clever marketing.

His study – of 242 teachers over 15 years – found that more than 75% of them met the criteria for depression.

In the BMJ, Professor Parker from the University of New South Wales in Australia, said that almost everyone had symptoms such as “feeling sad, blue or down in the dumps� at some point in their lives - but this was not the same as clinical depression which required treatment.

Prescribing medication may raise false hopes and might not be effective as there was nothing biologically wrong with the patient, he said.

But Professor Ian Hickie, also writing in the BMJ, took a differing view and said that an increased diagnosis and treatment of depression has led to a reduction in suicides and removal of stigma surrounding mental illness.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said depression was a “complex and challenging� condition with a range of symptoms.

“It is not surprising that with such a wide range of symptoms, identification varies from one doctor to another,� she said.

It is thought that one in five adults is thought to suffer depression during their life.


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