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New depression treatment options from NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has created a new menu of treatment options for those living with depression. It is the first guideline for 12 years to identify, treat and manage depression in adults.

People with depression should make the choice on what treatment option is right for them, in discussion with their healthcare professional, NICE says in the new draft guidance.

It has looked at the evidence on the treatment of new depressive episodes, chronic depression, preventing relapse, patient choice, and the organisation of, and access to, mental health services.

The independent NICE guideline committee has created a menu of treatment options to allow patients to pick the one which is right for them, in a shared decision-making discussion between them and their healthcare practitioner.

As a first-line treatment option, patients with less severe depression could choose, for example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exercise, counselling or psychotherapy from the menu.

A similar range of psychological interventions, along with the option of antidepressant medication, is available to those choosing a first-line treatment for more severe depression.

According to the Office of National Statistics, around one in six (17%) adults aged 16 years and over in Great Britain experienced some form of depression in summer 2021. The rate remains higher than those observed before the coronavirus pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020), where 10% of adults experienced some form of depression.

The guideline also contains new recommendations for those stopping the antidepressant medication.

Public Health England’s 2019 evidence review, Dependence and withdrawal associated with some prescribed medicines, showed 17% of the adult population in England (7.3 million people) had been prescribed antidepressants in the year 2017 to 2018.

People who are considering taking, or stopping, antidepressant medication should talk with their healthcare professional about the benefits and risks. The healthcare professional should explain that withdrawal may take weeks or months to complete successfully, that it is usually necessary to reduce the dose in stages over time (called ‘tapering’) and that most people stop antidepressants successfully.