Shocking increase in the prescription of anti-depressants

Shocking increase in the prescription of anti-depressants

By Liz Lockhart

A new study by the Office of National Statistics has revealed shocking results for the prescription of anti-depressants.

In 1991 the number of prescriptions written for anti-depressants was 9 million whereas in 2009 it was more than 39 million says the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS also says in the latest issue of its study ‘Social Trends’ that the soaring number of prescriptions shows that doctors prescribing drugs to treat depression has increased more than the number of adults being diagnosed with these conditions.

According to their figures one in ten adults is suffering from depression and four times as many anti-depressant drugs were handed out over the last 20 years.

Could it be that GPs are dishing out medications rather than referring people for therapy.  Therapy can be much more effective and we should not forget the potential for unwanted side-effects when taking certain anti-depressants.

The study found that during the period 2009/10 the number of people diagnosed with depression was:

  • More than 10% in England
  • 11.5% of the population of Northern Ireland
  • 8.6% in Scotland
  • 7.9% in Wales

The study found that women are more likely to have a common mental disorder than men. It notes that 21% of females suffer with this condition.  Common mental disorders (CMD) are mental conditions that include different types of depression and anxiety which cause marked emotional distress and interfere with general daily function.

The use of anti-depressants is not recommended as the first choice of action for mild to moderate depression.  A much better alternative is ‘talking therapies’.  Unfortunately it seems that the prescription of anti-depressants is a cheaper alternative but in the long run it is a false economy. 

Further help on depression

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