Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Going Beyond Your General Practitioner for Depression and Other Psychosocial Problems

When many people discover that they have a problem such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse, the first healthcare professional they see is probably their family doctor. That would be a good move if that doctor is a holistic practitioner, someone who understands a variety of alternative medicine treatments for the problem. But a new study examines how well GPs treat these conditions, and the picture is not all rosey. What you might end up with is a pharmaceutical prescription for an anti-depressant -- or additional appointments scheduled for "talk therapy."

The review appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

“Many patients visit their GP because of problems that are psychosocial in origin,” according to the team led by Marcus Huibers, of the Department of Clinical Psychological Services at Maastricht University. “Consequently, GPs could benefit from tools to help those patients.”

The reviewers looked at 10 studies and found no strong evidence for either the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of the psychosocial interventions by GPs. The brightest note is that some GP's will now use a "problem-solving treatment," which is a type of talk therapy. The goal is to help patients understand that their symptoms are caused by everyday problems and to teach them ways to tackle these problems.

Personally, for "talk therapy," I'd head to a therapist. If I wanted to talk to a doctor, I'd visit with a healthcare practitioner such as a holistic MD or Naturopath--even a Chiropractor. The key is to find a person locally who would have access to a full range of information about alternative approaches to these problems. There are more and more reported problems from pharmaceutical anti-depressant chemicals.

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Dave Jensen said...
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