In the past decade mental health, and depression in particular, has received a great deal of attention both in the general and medical media. Awareness of depression has markedly increased, attempts have been made to reduce its stigma, and a lot of effort has gone into educating GPs.
No-one would argue that this has not been a positive development. However it has lead on occasions to an oversimplification, where all bad moods are depression, and depression always responds to evidence based treatment with CBT & an SSRI.
To be human is to experience anxiety. As practitioners we encounter anxiety in many forms, including overt panic attacks and phobias as well as less distinct yet still pervasive everyday anxieties. From an existential perspective, anxiety is a universal phenomenon arising from our deep-seated responses to living in an uncertain world. Hence, anxiety is common to all humans and is something to be embraced rather than avoided.
The need for communities to access appropriate mental health care is consistently increasing the demand on General Practitioners who are already under-resourced to meet current health care expectations. The majority of people with a mental illness live and receive treatment in the community where General Practitioners are estimated to see 75 to 90 percent of patients with mental illness across the full range of illness severity (Keks et al 1997).