General Article Depression over-diagnosed and over-treated

Topic Selected: Depression
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A report published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that although the prevalence of depressive disorders is stable in the UK and US, rates of diagnosis have increased considerably. In England, antidepressant prescriptions increased by ten per cent a year between 1998 and 2010 and in the US, 11 per cent of over-11s were prescribed antidepressant drugs.

The report identifies a number of factors which are responsible for the increase, including the lowering of the threshold of what constitutes depression. The formal definition of depression was introduced by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980 and resulted in sadness and grief being diagnosed as depression.

In the most recent version of the manual, DSM-5 published last year, the definitions of depression have been broadened even further. It now puts a timescale of two weeks for a person to recover from a bereavement after which a depression disorder can be diagnosed.

Professor Chris Dowr...

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