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Br J Gen Pract. Sep 1999; 49(446): 738–743.
PMCID: PMC1313506

Should general practitioners refer patients with major depression to counsellors? A review of current published evidence. Nottingham Counselling and Antidepressants in Primary Care (CAPC) Study Group.


Major depression can be treated effectively with antidepressants. However, in the United Kingdom, patients with depression are often referred to counsellors, and surveys indicate that public opinion favours this approach. We carried out a literature review to determine the evidence for the effectiveness of counselling for depression in primary care. Because no studies were identified in which counselling had been evaluated specifically in relation to treating depression, we examined indirect evidence from studies evaluating the overall effectiveness of generic counselling in primary care, and studies evaluating the effectiveness of psychological treatments, other than counselling, for depression. Methodological problems influencing the interpretation of such studies are discussed. We conclude that, while specific psychological treatments have been shown to have equivalent effectiveness as antidepressants, there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend that generic counselling should be used alone in the treatment of patients with major depression.

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Selected References

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