My career began with the Defeat Depression Campaign

I began training in psychiatry in October 1993 just after the “Defeat Depression Campaign” had been launched. It ran alongside the five years of my training.

This “Campaign” had the full support of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of General Practitioners

More than 25 years on and my career as an NHS psychiatrist is now coming to an end.

It is my understanding that the “Defeat Depression Campaign” was entirely funded by the pharmaceutical industry. The details of the funding of this campaign have never been made fully clear.

I have communicated about this with two Presidents and two CEOs of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. For doing so, the previous President evoked a metaphor that implied I was a “pest”.

Here is an envelope of a letter I sent to the former CEO of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in late 2016:

The letter inside related to this published statement (of December 2016) by the [then] CEO of the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

Years and years ago:

This is what we read this in our morning newspapers (this is but a fraction-of-a-fraction of what was in the British newspapers during the 5-year “Defeat Depression Campaign“)

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A few days ago (30th May 2019) the Royal College of Psychiatrists published a position statement on antidepressants and depression acknowledging the real experience of many: that dependence and withdrawal with antidepressants is a serious and significant issue.

Today (5th June 2019):

  • nearly 1 in 5 Scots are taking antidepressants, many of whom have been taking them beyond the period of time for which there is evidence for
  • 40% General Practitioners working in NHS Scotland describe feeling “overwhelmed”
  • 1 in 4 GP positions are currently vacant


  1. No newspaper report over the 5 years of the “Defeat Depression Campaign” made it clear that this campaign was funded by the pharmaceutical industry: #informedconsent
  2.  A GOOGLE search on the “Defeat Depression Campaign” will find that promotional material has not been preserved in the public domain
  3. However, the Royal College of Psychiatrists holds an archive of the “Defeat Depression Campaign”. I have asked the Royal College of Psychiatrists if this archive might be fully shared, but have had no response.
  4. The current Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Psychopharmacology Committee was one of the most active paid opinion leaders during the Defeat Depression Campaign alongside Professor David Nutt. Both remain most active as paid opinion leaders today.
  5. The Royal College of Psychiatrists does not support sunshine legislation.
  6. Professor George Ikkos [22 April 2020]: “P Gordon says Defeat Depression campaign had diagrams of chemical imbalance. I don’t remember that. The material should be available in the Royal College of Psychiatrists archives . .  .  interesting what turns up; may not confirm PG statement”. When it was pointed out that such requests have been repeatedly made to the College for the archive material for the ‘Defeat Depression Campaign’, Professor Ikkos said: “I am surprised but have to take his word in trust. Back then, I thought the campaign was well intentioned but obviously very much of it’s time, riding the SSRI crest . . campaigns have reflected President’s enthusiasm, with RCPsych council support”
  7. May 2021. The University of Manchester offer “a collection of training videos available to purchase for mental-health professionals” including: