An article in the Daily Mail last week talked about how using the wrong drugs could actually be causing depression rather than helping it. There has been some concern in the media recently that family doctors diagnose depression too easily – for example when we feel tired and find it hard to get out of bed in the morning.

According to a new book by Professor Jane Plant, a London University College scientist, called Beating Stress, Anxiety and Depression, many of the two million people in the UK who take antidepressants are actually misdiagnosed.

“A study by an American psychiatrist found that more than 10 per cent of patients diagnosed with mental illness are actually suffering from an underlying physical condition, such as a heart murmur or a mineral deficiency such as calcium or magnesium that causes depression-like symptoms,” says Professor Plant.

Many believe that, within the NHS, there is too much emphasis on a one size fits all approach and feel that other methods should be taken into consideration, such as using alternatives where possible: counselling, psychotherapy and other forms of stress management.

For example, many people suffering from anxiety react well to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as this looks at their existing patterns of behaviours and triggers and trains them to react and think differently, so they can avoid anxiety at different situations. CBT is often combined with relaxation therapies, such as hypnotherapy, to make it even more effective. It’s also a relatively quick therapy and there is no need for drugs.

However, even the alternative treatments should be considered for individual cases.  For example, CBT would not be as helpful for someone with post-natal depression as this is considered a hormonal issue and is best treated by support, counselling or psychotherapy where needed. We live in a nation where we are sometimes too hasty to turn to drugs, our doctors are overworked and alternative treatments and therapies are often still overlooked by many.