A HELENSBURGH campaigner has taken her call for better support for people hooked on anti-depressant drugs to the Scottish Parliament.

Marion Brown spoke to Holyrood’s public petitions committee to try and raise awareness of a problem she says affects hundreds of people across Scotland.

Marion, the founder of the Helensburgh-based Recovery and Renewal self-help group, lodged a petition urging the Scottish Government “to take action to appropriately recognise and effectively support individuals affected and harmed by prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal”.

After the meeting Marion told the Advertiser: “We’ve been trying for years and years to get people – politicians and the medical profession – to acknowledge there is a problem.

“We keep getting fobbed off and fobbed off. People are being seriously harmed by these medicines and it’s not being recognised.

“But the committee seemed to listen and they do have to take this forward.”

Ms Brown said it was vital to educate the public on the side-effects of anti-depressant drugs and the difficulties many people can experience when they try to stop using them.

She continued: “If they go to their doctor because they’re feeling depressed or anxious their doctor will give medicine, but those medicines affect your nervous system. They can cause stomach problems, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties and other side-effects which require more medicine.

“Nobody seems to realise that one is causing the other.”

Instead, Marion advocates the use of alternative treatments such as “talking therapy” – giving people suffering from anxiety or depression the chance to talk to someone before deciding whether prescription medicine is really needed.

That was one of the key aims behind the setting up of Recovery and Renewal in Helensburgh in 2013.

Marion continued: “We found the biggest difficulty people had was with medication, but the medical profession didn’t engage with us.

“We now have a Facebook group, and in the last few years groups like that have become very important. They’re almost like a 24-hour source of support.”

Following Marion’s visit to Holyrood on June 29, the public petitions committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government for information on the problem from the country’s chief medical officer.

The committee will also contact the UK all-party parliamentary group for prescribed drug dependence, and seek the views of the BMA.

West of Scotland MSP and Helensburgh resident Maurice Corry, who is a member of the petitions committee, said: “The work Marion is doing is first class.

“There is undoubtedly a problem – that has been recognised by the committee – and we need to undertake further investigation into how we can help support the work done by Marion and other similar groups.

“Their work is immensely valuable in the community and I thoroughly commend it.”