Combining Active Ingredients to treat Depression in the wake of COVID-19

08 Dec 2021

Centre for Global Mental Health Professor Melanie Abas calls for depression to be “everyone’s business” in Lancet Psychiatry.  

The impact of the pandemic means a larger demand for mental health care at a time when services are disrupted.  This is an opportunity to learn from the global south where it has been shown that non-specialists can provide effective, affordable first-level psychological treatment.

Drawing on the Wellcome Trust’s concept of Active Ingredients,  Abas calls for “depression-informed conversations” across healthcare, charity and social welfare sectors :

1.Be alert to clues & ask questions

2.Use ingredients known to be active

3.Encourage adherence

4.Refer those with persistent depression for further treatment.

We need to empower people with depression to problem-solve, get active, and use self-care. Psychological therapists and psychopharmacologists need to co-operate in training and supervising non-specialists. It is ethical to give non-judgmental information about potential benefits of antidepressants for those with significant persistent symptoms. Influencers who have experienced depression, like athletes and musicians, can help reduce stigma by being specific about their symptoms and are.  

Greater demand for, and better access to, self-care and delivery of the best combination of treatments in primary care will give people with depression the best chance of getting well quickly, allowing them to take part in the post-pandemic recovery.

Read the full paper here: 

Abas, M., (2021). Combining Active Ingredients to Treat Depression in the Wake of COVID-19. Lancet Psychiatry