More antidepressants to make up for the lack of psychotherapy

More antidepressants to make up for the lack of psychotherapy

Quebecers are taking more and more antidepressants. The stakeholders consulted by Radio-Canada are unanimous: the lack of access to psychotherapy and other resources does nothing to help curb the phenomenon.

Since 2018, according to figures from the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec, the number of prescriptions for antidepressants has been on the rise in all regions of the province, both among the youngest and among adults.

They are prescribed to treat mood disorders such as depression, but also anxiety disorders.

The pandemic has certainly contributed to this increase, but the phenomenon was already well underway before 2020, notes Annie Loiseau, child and adolescent psychiatrist and administrator at the Association of Psychiatric Physicians of Quebec.

If we had easier access to psychosocial resources, there would be fewer prescriptions for antidepressants, I’m convinced of that.she admits.

For mild to moderate anxiety and depression disorders, psychotherapy should generally be preferred to medication, the expert believes.

Karine Gauthier, president of the Coalition of Psychologists of the Quebec Public Network, also came to this conclusion in an interview on the program First hour.

Ideally, taking antidepressants should itself be accompanied by therapy. The best treatment for depression, the one that has been scientifically proven, is known to be the marriage of antidepressants and psychotherapy. But unfortunately, often all we have to offer are antidepressants.says Christine Grou, psychologist and president of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec.

The benefits of therapy

Psychotherapy also makes it possible to act on these disorders more durably. We are not only working on the chemistry of the brain, we are working on what organizes and regulates the person. We work to modify our way of thinking, of behaving and our interpersonal system. We are really working on elements that will lastexplains Christine Grou.

We must admit that today in 2023, we are not able to offer the treatment of choice to everyone she continues.

A downcast teenage girl with her hands under her chin sitting in front of a laptop computer in her bedroom.

Since the pandemic, distress among 15 to 34 year olds has increased at an alarming rate.

Photo: Getty Images/Carol Yepes

For the three speakers, the increase in prescriptions is clearly worrying, the causes and symptoms should clearly be taken into account. We talk a lot about it, about the importance of dealing with mental health in public discourse, but in my opinion, we are slow to take the necessary means to really make a shiftsays the psychologist.

Prescribe out of spite

Difficulties of access could be used to partly explain the disparities found in the increases in prescriptions depending on the region. I can speak for Bas-Saint-Laurent as it is my area of ​​practice and yes, access is very difficult; just in child psychiatry, we have more than a year to wait. The pressure is very strongsays Annie Loiseau.

When a doctor finds himself in front of a patient in distress, medication often becomes the only short-term option, according to the psychiatrist.

A woman holding her head

More and more young women are turning to antidepressants to combat anxiety.

Photo: Getty Images/PonyWang

The majority of common mental disorders will be treated on the front line, therefore in their family medicine clinic or in their CLSC. This is where mental health teams are in very variable geometry. There are rarely psychologists and sometimes social workersadds Christine Grou.

So, on the one hand, the number of consultations for psychological disorders has increased substantially and on the other, there is no accessible and free psychotherapy available in family medicine clinics, explains Ms. Grou.

I think we have to make it a public health issue because otherwise common mental disorders like anxiety and depression will continue to proliferate.she laments.

Tackle the source

Funding for mental health services is one of the solutions put forward by Annie Loiseau at the government level. We need to rethink care, that’s what the reform of Minister (of Health Christian) Dubé aims to do and I hope that there will be tangible and concrete results because the needs are enormous. For me, the increase in prescriptions is a telling factor. You have to take a moment to pause and reflectalso adds Christine Grou.

At the individual and population level, it really starts with having good lifestyle habits, being careful about the use of screens and social media and learning to tolerate when you have a negative emotion.adds the psychiatrist.

The president of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec finally believes that we should look into the causes societal and systemic that explain the resurgence of anxiety and depressive disorders.

With information from Charles-Antoine Boulanger

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