Limitations of Psychiatry; VIEWPOINTS

Article excerpt

I WRITE regarding the plight of GPs, those driven by a high and caring purpose in the best Hippocratic tradition, who want to be left to get on with the job of caring for people's health to the best of their ability.

I was prompted after the Lancet recently featured a University of Leicester study that GPs have difficulty spotting depression among their patients.

Today, GPs, specialists or otherwise, can be criticised, bullied or treated like a "fringe" dweller for practising traditional, workable, diagnostic medicine instead of bowing to pressures and prescribing psychiatric drugs for various mental problems such as depression.

Many GPs have acknowledged there are numerous physical conditions that can cause emotional and behavioural problems, and the vital need to check for them first.

It follows then that relying on psychiatric drugs to suppress emotional symptoms, without first looking for and correcting a possible underlying physical illness, could simply be giving patients a chemical fix, while leaving them with an illness that could worsen.

In one study, 83% of people referred by clinics and social workers for psychiatric treatment had undiagnosed physical illnesses; in another, 42% of those diagnosed with "psychoses" were later found to be suffering from a medical illness.

There is a pervasiveness about the mental health thinking that appears in primary care medicine today. It is largely due to the "success" of psychiatry's diagnostic systems, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and the mental disease section of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). …