Farm experience better than drugs in depression

GPs should consider prescribing visits to ‘care farms’ for depressed patients, says NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon.

In the Netherlands patients can choose between drugs or visiting a farm where they take part in farming activities.

‘We have always known that caring for animals and caring for the land has genuine therapeutic value,’ added the GP, who practises in Cullompton, Devon.

‘This initiative is often cheaper and safer than conventional ways of treating some patients. Now we need local and national government backing too.’

Dr Dixon added that care farms were particularly helpful to patients with drug and alcohol addiction and depression.

‘I will be urging doctors to take advantage of the opportunities care farms present for patients,’ he said.

Care farms might be new to the UK but they are common in the Netherlands, Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

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