According to the Guardian, on the 1st October, we GPs are. I quote Ann Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, on a survey done of new mothers, which supposedly show most are offered antidepressants, not counselling :
“Longfield said that the results of the report were shocking and showed that postnatal depression was not being taken seriously: “It just reveals so much in terms of lack of empathy and sympathy for these people. It’s a complete disregard for their health and wellbeing.
“It seems that, from the Department of Health’s point of view, it’s not an issue; they don’t even ask the questions or collect the information. It’s seen as an everyday little personal issue and GPs, I’m afraid, are not proving very sympathetic to those mothers that are coming through their door. At the end of the day, no one is taking it seriously.”
Of more than 2,000 mothers questioned, 70% were given antidepressants when they approached their doctor. The Nice guidelines recommend early diagnosis and quick access to treatment to limit the damaging effect postnatal depression has on the baby, the partner and other children in the family. The international health body states that psychological therapies should be offered as an alternative to antidepressants.”
I can’t tell you whether or not this is true because the survey is not available. I phoned the press office: these are serious allegations against GPs and the NHS. I was told that they are not available because the survey results are ‘under embargo’ until tomorrow. I then said that this isn’t how you should do it – the purpose of embargo is to allow journalists to get their story straight before publication, not to create a puff of publicity when people can’t get the full results. I said this isn’t how it should be done, and was told that the embargo purpose wasn’t the same as for science stories as this ‘wasn’t a scientific study’. Yet Longfield feels it’s good enough to draw firm conclusions from.
Alarm bells started to ring for me when the Guardian said that the survey was run by Bounty – you know, the freebies ‘parenting club’ whom the NCT have been rightly having a go at because of their sales pitches in postnatal hospital wards.
I’ll write more on this if – when – I get the data. Until then, it’s worth noting that waiting lists for CBT are, appallingly, around 8 weeks in many areas; this makes the choice for a moderately depressed person given the choice between waiting for therapy vs antidepressants now somewhat skewed.
UPDATE at 9pm 2nd October