Doctors are in a dilemma. Anti-Depressant pills …….. or social clubs ? What to prescribe for loneliness? Conflicting advice has emerged just in the last two days.
Listen to researchers from Oxford University and doctors should be recommending more and more anti-depressant pills to the ever increasing number of lonely older people. There are estimated to be around 2 million people who suffer from depression in Britain. A staggering 65 million anti-depressant prescriptions are issued every year. That must keep the doctors busy.
Alternatively, follow the latest advice of NHS England and prescribe more social activity. Coffee mornings, bingo, walking groups, pubs, night clubs ………. anywhere you can meet and talk to people. So maybe not night clubs. Actually, pubs weren’t in the original list because I don’t think NHS England likes alchohol. But for many older people, pubs are increasingly a popular place to meet and that doesn’t imply they are drinking themselves to death.
I wonder if my GP will pay for my season ticket at Leicester Tigers, if I tell him that I’m getting depressed about Tigers’ results lately ? They are not having a very good season this year, so perhaps the team doctor should issue anti-depressants to the 20,000 Tigers fans 😀
For this new more wholistic approach to work, GP’s would have to spend a lot more time getting to know their patients first. This is perhaps a skill that has been lost in today’s five minute consultations. It is doubly difficult if you see a different doctor every time you visit the group practice. Maybe we should go back to family doctors and occasional home visits?
Not so many pills for the ill, just a bit more time and compassion.