Antidepressant use soars as the recession bites

This from Jamie Doward at The Observer:

Fears the recession is affecting the mental health of the nation appear to be borne out by new figures that show prescriptions of antidepressants are soaring.

Last year in England there were 2.1m more prescriptions of antidepressants than in 2007, leading to concerns that doctors are increasingly supplying the drugs as a “quick fix” without attempting to address the underlying cause of the problems. In total, 36m prescriptions were given out, an increase of 24% over the past five years.

“The increase in the number of people being prescribed antidepressants is deeply disturbing,” said the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, Norman Lamb, who obtained the figures. “England has become a true Prozac nation.”

Lamb said it appeared the economy was a major factor in the increase. “The figures raise serious concerns over the impact of the current recession on people’s mental health,” he said. “Ministers have acted far too slowly to ensure that support is put in place to help people through these difficult times.”

The links between economic woes and depression are well documented. Victoria Walsh, campaigns and policy manager at mental health charity Rethink, said its information centres and telephone advice lines were reporting a surge in people experiencing problems as a result of financial difficulties. “We are seeing people coming in who have been high fliers and now find life without their jobs overwhelming,” she said.

Politicians and experts working in the field of depression said it was important that alternative therapies should be made available to counter the increasing reliance on antidepressants at a time when people were at their most vulnerable. “Doctors want their patients to have effective, long-term help, and drugs must not be the only answer,” Lamb said. “Urgent action is needed to ensure psychological therapies are available to those who need them.”

Read on here.

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