Money worries linked to rise in antidepressant use

Money worries linked to rise in antidepressant use

By Liz Lockhart

The use of prescribed antidepressants has risen by almost 30% in England over the last three years and many believe that the rise is a result of economic stress which can, so often, result in mental health problems.

New data from the NHS Information Centre shows that antidepressant use rose by 28% between 2007-02 and 2020-11 in England.  In the period 2007-08 the number of prescriptions which were dispensed for antidepressants was just under 34 million, this rose to 43.4 million in the period 2010-11.

There has also been an increase in the use of anti-anxiety drugs during this period which rose by 8%, while prescriptions for sleeping tablets rose by 3%.

The prescription of barbiturates has dropped considerable from just over 22,000 to just under 11,000. There was a 20% rise overall across all of these groups of drugs between 2007/08 and 2010/11.

Speaking to the UK Press Association, Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said ‘The tough economic times may have contributed to more people experiencing depression, but improved awareness around mental health problems may also mean more people are seeking help for their problems, with doctors also getting better at spotting symptoms.’

‘It’s important to remember that antidepressants can be a lifeline for some people which enable them to manage their mental health problems.  It is worrying that antidepressants can be the first port of call for some doctors, despite the fact that ‘watchful waiting’ and talking therapies are recommended as the first line of treatment for mild to moderate depression,’ he added.

Some experts are urging caution when interpreting the NHS figures.  There was much media hype about and epidemic of depression caused by economic problems when, in April 2011, the NHS data showed a 43% increase in prescriptions for the SSRI class of antidepressants.

Source: UK Press Association 

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