There’s More to Depression’ and GPs need to understand this

‘There’s More to Depression’ and GPs need to understand this

By Liz Lockhart

An interesting survey entitled ‘GPs need to understand that There’s More to Depression’ has recently been published.  The survey was commissioned by AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business.

AstraZeneca received advice from several independent advisors who include Professor Stephen Bazire, Chief Pharmacist for Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Chris Manning, GP and Fellow of the International Society for Affective Disorders and Professor Allan Young, Imperial College London and Depression Alliance.

The survey reveals that GPs need more confidence in helping people to manage their depression.

Despite 96% of GPs usually or always making an attempt to determine the severity level of depression at diagnosis, only 11% are very confident at discussing what this means for treatment choices with their patients, and only 20% always try to.

The severity of someone’s depression is an important factor to consider when making treatment choices and people with depression are, therefore, missing out on information to help them choose which treatments would be best for them which 66% of respondents surveyed felt would be useful.

The time it takes to make an accurate diagnosis is also a factor preventing access to the most appropriate treatment; almost half of GPs say that it takes over three months for them to be satisfied that they have identified the right severity level of someone’s depression.

‘Depression is a complex condition which needs to be better understood’, said Dr Chris Manning MRCGP, Fellow of the International Society for Affective Disorders, Mental Health Lead for the College of Medicine and advisor to the campaign.

‘We need to ensure that people are able to make informed decisions about their treatment and this means we need to provide them with clear information n the different severity levels and types of depression, as well as all of the treatment choices at their disposal and the supports that are available to help them.’

‘Choice is a key factor.  We need to ensure that people have good quality, easily accessible information on depression so that they can make choices over the range of treatments available,’ said Emer O’Neill, Chief Executive of Depression Alliance.

‘People with depression need access to information so they can work with their GP to help them access different choices which have been shown to help assist recovery and ends the feelings of loneliness that come with depression, including talking therapies and lifestyle changes.’ he added.

The survey results have been released as part of ‘There’s More to Depression’, a public education campaign that has received input from several independent healthcare advisors.  It highlights the challenges that GPs face in regards to making timely and accurate diagnosis , providing appropriate information to their patients and understanding the importance of different types of depression.

The survey was conducted amongst three different groups of people:

  • 152 GPs from England, Wales and Scotland who competed a 15 minute online survey.
  • 411 people aged 18 and over from England, Wales and Scotland who had been to see their GP due to feeling low or depressed in the past 3 years who completed a 15 minute online survey.
  • 2008 members of the general public from England, Wales and Scotland aged 16 and over who were asked whether they had previously been to see their GP due to feeling low or depressed.

The survey results are available in more detail at

Further help on depression

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