GPs advised on options of medication and therapy
THE HSE and the Irish College of General Practitioners introduced guidelines on primary care for patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders six years ago.
The guidelines advised GPs that they had the option to prescribe medication and/or therapy for people suffering from symptoms of depression.
However, a doctor who believed that a patient was at risk of suicide was advised to refer them to a specialist immediately.
"In moderate to severe depression, anti-depressant medication may be deemed necessary while considering psychological interventions," the guidelines stated.
Doctors were advised to prescribe benzodiazepine – anti-depressants that are addictive – if the patient developed increased agitation and only for a short period.
Doctors have urged anyone with depression to visit their GP.
Dr Ray Walley from the Irish Medical Organisation said patients should understand that most anti-depressant medication was not addictive.
Dr Genevieve McGuire, who directs programmes for trainee doctors, said she would be alarmed if a doctor failed to prescribe appropriate medication for a patient with depressive symptoms.
She was concerned about negative attention that doctors doing their best to help depressive patients were receiving.
"Depression is a real illness," she said.