Daniel Hell (75) worked for many years as Medical Director of the University Hospital for Psychiatry in Zurich (PUK) and Professor of Clinical Psychiatry. After retirement, she continued to work as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Hell follows a holistic approach that makes the social environment responsible for disease development.
Mr Hell, recent figures show that psychotropic drugs are increasingly prescribed by non-psychiatrists. What do you think?
Daniel Hell: Prescribing antidepressants by GPs, I think in some cases makes sense, for example, in mild depression with sleep disorders. But I find it very problematic to prescribe prematurely without detailed discussions, without examining alternative treatment methods or self-help measures. This includes relaxation, massage or sports exercises.
Why is it so hard to prescribe other doctors?
It is important to weigh the effects and side effects of psychotropic drugs against each other. Therefore, longer treatment with antidepressants should be organized by a psychiatrist. Because what reduces suffering in the short term can impair quality of life with long-term intake and lead to further complications.
However, more and more antidepressants are being prescribed.
My assessment is that antidepressants are prescribed these days, resulting in an unnecessary complication rate. There is a widespread belief in the population, but sometimes in physicians, that antidepressants can eliminate the causes of depression. But they only affect the symptoms.
What would be the alternative to using drugs?
Often, psychotherapy is more sustainable. In fact, Helsana figures show that there are even increased commitments to psychologists for psychotherapy. This emphasizes that psychotherapy is gaining importance in medical care.