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Pills can be better than talking

28th March 2011

Richard Gray, a professor of nursing research at the University of East Anglia, says sometimes pills are the answer to help people with mental health problems.

pharmacy 1Q

Listening to a Powerpoint presentation with several others about coping with stress is often the main form of talking therapy patients on the NHS's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) have access to.

Psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication are very effective in treating these illnesses but when given a choice most choose a talking therapy over medication.

Why this is so remains unclear but stigma associated with taking pills for mental illness may be one factor.

Accessing talking treatments has been restricted because of the number of qualified therapists that can provide the therapy, hence the IAPT programme which sought to remedy this.

But patients seemed to walk away from this option early on, perhaps because of the way it was offered.

So is it time to question our seeming obsession with talking treatments?

Although it feels like heresy to suggest this, I want to stand up for the very important role medication can play in the treatment of mental illness.

Antidepressants are effective and though they have side effects, so does CBT.

Many patients feel antidepressants have saved their lives and when it comes to severe mental illnesses I believe medication should be viewed as the foundation for effective treatment.

Both psychological therapies and medication have a role to play in treating mental illness but is it not time now to think about Improving Access to Pharmacological Therapies?

 

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Comments

Carolyn Thomas

Wednesday 20th April 2011 @ 15:24

"....antidepressants are effective and though they have side effects, so does CBT..."

Really? Please list the CBT side effects for us. We'd also be interested in your sources to back up sweeping generalizations about "our seeming obsession with talk therapy". Here in North America, stats are clearly at odds with such claims. Recent 'Consumer Reports Health' research, for example, suggests that "in 1995, less than 40% treated for mental health issues got drug therapy. But by 2010, 80% of those treated for depression or anxiety receive drug treatment. Drugs had a quicker impact on symptoms than talk therapy, but it often took trial and error to find a drug that worked without undesirable side effects. "

Headlines like "Pills Can Be Better Than Talking" immediately trigger curiosity about an author's financial conflicts of interest, so it is not surprising to learn that yours include receiving money from drug companies like AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Otsuka, Eli Lilly, Janssen.

Small wonder you're now warning us about our "obsession with talk therapy" instead of all those lovely expensive drugs.

siew allen

Wednesday 8th June 2011 @ 18:14

Side effects of anti depressants are so horrendous and makes patients act like zombies, so how can this help with the patients to become cognitively aware and for CBT to work. Doctors should be fine tuners of drugs used on patients (specialist in pharmacology) but instead they just push them out like public community drugs. Ready drug pushers with a licence!


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