So reads the headline on the BBC News website, over a story that prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs like Prozac have risen by some 43% over the past four years.
The story has been picked up by many newspapers, with headlines like “Economic gloom fuelling rise in depression” (Independent); “Recession linked to huge rise in use of antidepressants” (Telegraph) and “Economic slump fuels 43% rise in use of anti-depressants” (Mail). According to the reports GPs and mental health charities are being contacted increasingly by people struggling with worries over their debts.
None of this comes as a surprise to anyone involved in debt advice. It is not at all unusual for debt concerns to lead, not only to health problems, but also to relationship difficulties and breakdowns.
Now I don’t claim to be any sort of a therapist or counsellor. I can understand how drugs may be able to help alleviate symptoms of depression. What they can’t do, of course, is resolve the underlying problems.
On many occasions, we’ve sat down with people who are seriously affected by debt and, after discussing the problems and suggesting a way through, seen them react in a way which is like seeing, amost literally, a huge weight being lifted from their shoulders.
The government spends millions of pounds each year on therapy services for those who might be suffering from depression due to the economic downturn. Wouldn’t it be a more effective use of resources to encourage people to take appropriate advice from experienced debt professionals who can help cure the problem, not just the symptoms?