Family doctors have been told to only prescribe anti-depressants to people who are seriously depressed and can no longer function properly, the NRC reports on Thursday.
The new guidelines were drawn up by the family doctors’ professional association Nederlands Huisartsen Genootschap and suggest patients with more moderate complaints should be told that depression usually rights itself.
In addition, people with lighter forms of the illness should be advised to regulate their sleeping patterns, continue working and take up sport, such as jogging. They could also be referred to internet-based therapies and problem-solving courses, the association says.
According to the NRC, one million of the Dutch population of almost 17 million take anti-depressants. Most of them suffer from lighter forms of the illness and research shows pills do not help, the paper says. Some 80% of prescriptions are handed out by family doctors rather than psychiatrists.
The new guidelines differentiate for the first time between classic depression and depression complaints, including tiredness, loss of concentration and black moods.