When Danilo could not really shake off the sadness inside himself, he did as many of us probably would do: He went to the doctor. Here, he hoped – and believed – that he could get the help he needed. In Denmark it is the General Practitioners job, which all are self-employed, to make the first preliminary study, when we have physical or mental problems. The patient thus starts with the General Practitioner, who either makes a diagnosis or send the patient on in the treatment system. Danske Regioner (Danish Regions) describes it as: “Through the General practitioner’s special generalistic competences he functions as a gatekeeper to the rest of the healthcare system and as coordinator for the patient”. Therefore, the practitioner’s knowledge is also essential, as it is the doctor who is responsible for the assessment of what help the patient needs. If the practitioner is not strong within a specific field, a patient may end up not getting the right medication or being referred to the wrong place in the healthcare system.
Lack of knowledge
Although general practitioners have a broad knowledge of many diseases, they are not experts in specific diseases. They possess general knowledge, and their tasks is to send the patient on to specialists. However, this is not the case not when it comes to the treatment of adult depression with SSRIs (antidepressants). The family Terrida have tried to find out why General Practitioners have been given the power to diagnose and treat complex neurological and psychological problems with antidepressants, but they could not find an answer. When Danilo died, General Practitioners were even allowed to prescribe antidepressants to young people under 25, even though it was well known that the drug increases the risk of suicide for this age group. Therefore, Marianne and Denis only got more frightened when they found a report from the World Health Organization and an article from the Danish Health Institute, among others stating that the majority of the Danish practitioners have not received official training in psychiatry over the past five years. On top of the lack of training – and thus lack of updated knowledge – the officially approved manuals on the treatment of mental disorders are not available in most of the country’s medical clinics.
Should not happen
At the Terrida family who lost their son Danilo, because a practitioner prescribed antidepressants to him, without following up on the effectiveness of the medicine, it feels deeply troubling, that doctors can continue to prescribe this medication even though they are not specialists. Marianne and Denis are convinced that it will also be in the general practitioners own interest if they either receive the necessary training or are banned from prescribing the medicine. They do not believe that doctors can actually feel good about having to make judgments that they are not educated to make, especially considering the possible fatal consequences for patients, as it was for Danilo.
On the following pages, Marianne and Denis have described the experiences Danilo had with a number of doctors when he turned for help. The descriptions are in chronological order.