UK Trends anxiety and depression in primary care

Primary care is provided primarily by GP’s and allied health professionals (psychologists and social workers).  In the UK the anxiety and depression related trends for primary care from 1998 to 2008 were calculated on a complex formula that is based on ‘1000 person years at risk’ (1000PYAR).  This scale adjusts for the age of the person with the condition. Because this article focuses on trends it will not matter too much what the scale used is except to see if things are going up or down and by how much.

The diagnosis by GPs of anxiety decreased from 7.9 to 4.9 1000PYAR.  The GP’s however recorded a significant jump in anxiety related symptoms from 3.9 to 5.8 1000PYAR.

Mixed anxiety and depression diagnosis similarly decreased 4.0 to 2.2/1000PYAR.

If similar populations of people are carefully screened for conditions the rates are much higher.  The authors conclude that either patients are failing to report anxiety or the GP’s are under diagnosing these mental health issues in the UK.  The increase in symptoms does tend to indicate that people are presenting the issues but GP’s are making referral/diagnostic decisions based on additional factors.

Reference:

Recent Trends in the Incidence of Anxiety Diagnoses and Symptoms in Primary Care Walters, Kate; Rait, Greta; Griffin, Mark; Buszewicz, Marta; Nazareth, Irwin . PLoS One ; San Francisco  Vol. 7, Iss. 8,  (Aug 2012): e41670.