The key to stopping depression in its tracks might lie in improving the bedside manner of doctors according to a group of Perth-based researchers.
In a recent study, University of Western Australia researchers found that educating doctors reduced the number of patients displaying depression symptoms.
UWA’s Centre for Health and Ageing researcher Osvaldo Almeida said the patients seen by doctors who received training were less likely to display depression symptoms.
Professor Almeida (pictured) said it was unclear what caused the changes but the results could not be explained by more frequent use of antidepressants.
“The most plausible explanation is that the GPs who received the intervention were more willing to discuss their patients’ emotional concerns and that this greater openness and empathy made all the difference,” he said.
The two-year study involved more than 370 GPs and 22,000 patients and focused mainly on depression among older Australians.
Professor Almeida said the treatment methods could be applied to the broader community.
Depression is predicted to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide within the next decade.