Doctors cautious with drugs

Greece has not gone the way of the United States, say doctors, referring to the widespread use of anti-depressants among adults and youngsters in that country. It has been estimated that in the US more than 2.5 million children who have been diagnosed as hyperactive take powerful drugs as a matter of course. In Greece child psychiatrists are more cautious in prescribing such drugs. «We haven’t been carried away by the trend,» says Anagnostopoulos. «In other countries Ritalin is frequently prescribed to treat hyperactivity. We try to avoid such solutions. We try to solve problems through other approaches.» On the other hand, as Tsalamanios points out, the «caution» of Greek doctors is not always in the patient’s interest. «The prejudice related to mental illness which persists in Greece means that drugs are not used in treatment to the extent that they should be,» he says. «But some drugs can help. We notice that general practitioners are more willing to prescribe them than child psychiatrists are.» In the past 10 years, the consumption of anti-depressants has increased six-fold in Greece. According to the Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Technology, Greeks consume 144 million anti-depressant pills a year.