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Reducing medication for depression and nature versus mental health

New draft quality of care standards  for adults with depression, developed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), provide detailed guidance on how to help adults come off antidepressants ultimately. NICE is the executive public body of the Department of Health and Social Care in England and an independent advisory body of experts in treating adults with depression. For patients who want to stop taking antidepressants, NICE recommends phasing them out, which helps reduce the effects of withdrawal and long-term dependence on the drug. According to the Office for National Statistics, around one in six (16%) British adults experience moderate or severe depression. In England alone, 21.4 million antidepressants were prescribed between July and September 2022.

Based on an analysis of responses from 16,000 randomly selected residents of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, researchers from the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare recommend visits to parks, gardens and other urban green spaces as a way to reduce city dwellers’ intake of anti-anxiety, insomnia, depression, hypertension and asthma medication. Visiting forests, cemeteries, zoos, meadows, heaths and wetlands three to four times a week reduces the likelihood of taking asthma medication by around ¼, and medication for mental health problems or high blood pressure by ⅓.

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