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Exercise help denied for depressed

30th June 2009

A report by the Mental Health Foundation has shown that depressed people are not being offered the chance to use exercise to help with their condition.

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Five years ago guidance was released which recommended the use of exercise to treat patients who had "mild or moderate" depression.

The study revealed only 50% of GPs could refer their patients to exercise schemes, usually because of a lack of funds.

Studies have shown that using exercise to treat depression can work just as well as prescribing antidepressants to patients.

Recent data showed that prescriptions for antidepressants had increased significantly in a decade, from 18,424,473 in 1998 to 35,960,500 in 2008.

The report showed many GPs did not know about local exercise referral programmes.

Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said that while antidepressants could be very helpful in treating the condition, some patients experienced side-effects.

"People experiencing mild or moderate depression are currently being denied access to a clinically recommended, medication-free treatment that could help them," he added.

"Primary Care Trusts really need to make an effort to ensure that exercise therapy is available to GPs and their patients."


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