Two of my patients went to see their GPs last week, one for back pain and one for digestive problems. Both were sent away with prescriptions for antidepressants.
It’s a story I hear quite a lot. Turn up with fatigue, trouble sleeping, chronic muscular pain – in fact, anything that doesn’t respond well to the first line of attack – and you may well end up on antidepressants.
One of these patients was actually asked if he felt depressed, and the answer was ‘No’. He didn’t know what the pills were. To be fair to his doctor, she may well have tried to explain how they worked, but because the patient was thinking about his stomach trouble, he didn’t take that on board.
The trouble is that antidepressants usually take two to three weeks to come into full effect, and sometimes they can make people feel worse, not better. Sometimes, indeed, they can cause digestive upsets. And if the patient does take them as ordered, there may well be problems down the line with coming off the drugs. It’s not a thing to embark on without careful consideration, never mind without informed consent.
I don’t know what the answer is. It’s normal for people not to take in most of what their doctor says, so should it be put in writing? Should you have to sign something saying you understand what you’re taking on?