Bleak Britain: Anti-depressant prescriptions soar even though illness declines

How can this be?

I’d say there are two main reasons: In the UK (and most countries) the Government is happy to buy huge amounts of expensive drugs from big pharma and by prescribing them, at least something is being seen to be done – boxes can be ticked, ‘treatment’ targets delivered.

The problem is that there is no money left to employ counsellors – research by five mental health charities found depressed patients were having wait for six to 18 months to get an appointment with an NHS counsellor… and this against a background of previous studies that have shown psychological therapies can be as effective as drugs in tackling mental health problems, and may work better in the long term. In fact, many GPs admit prescribing antidepressant medications to patients because they can’t get access to talking therapies.

And the second reason?

I suggest you find out what big pharma calls ‘marketing’ its product – here – read about rigged drug trials, buried negative data, the invention of new illnesses to treat with exisiting drugs…

This from Jenny Hope of the Daily Mail:

Prescriptions for anti-depressants have soared despite fewer patients being diagnosed with depression, research shows.

It reveals the number of prescriptions issued by GPs for drugs including Prozac and Seroxat has more than doubled over the past 11 years.

And it warns the dramatic rise is largely down to more than two million patients taking antidepressants for years at a time  –  many of them young women.

Young women were more likely to take anti-depressants long term, according to the study (posed by model)

Prescriptions for anti- depressants have soared despite fewer patients being diagnosed with depression, research shows.

It reveals the number of prescriptions issued by GPs for drugs including Prozac and Seroxat has more than doubled over the past 11 years.

And it warns the dramatic rise is largely down to more than two million patients taking antidepressants for years at a time  –  many of them young women.

The study, by Southampton University and published in the British Medical Journal, analysed all new cases of depression between 1993 and 2004 from anonymous computerised general practice records.

The database covers 170 GP surgeries and around 1.7million registered patients.

It found the number of prescriptions issued for antidepressants per patient rose from 2.8 in 1993 to 5.6 in 2004.

Data from the Prescription Pricing Authority also found more than 30million prescriptions for SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), such as Prozac and Seroxat, are issued each year  –  twice as many as the early 1990s.

The study also found 90 per cent of those diagnosed with depression now take SSRIs either continuously or as repeated courses over several years.

Researchers said they feared the rise could result in addiction problems like those affecting users of the anti-anxiety drug Valium 30 years ago.

And they claimed many patients, particularly women, were taking the drugs over a long period rather than to alleviate symptoms in the short-term.

Many subsequently had trouble getting the help they needed to treat their addiction, they added.

Professor Kendrick, who led the study, said: ‘We estimate more than two million people are taking antidepressants long-term, in particular women aged between 18 and 30.

‘Our previous research found although these drugs are said not to be addictive, many patients found it difficult to come off them, due to withdrawal symptoms including anxiety.

‘Many wanted more help from their GP to come off the drugs. We don’t know how many really need them and whether long term use is harmful. This has similarities to the situation with Valium in the past.’

He said the UK was among several western European countries which had seen a substantial rise in antidepressant prescribing in the past 20 years.

‘Lower thresholds for diagnosis or treatment, or changes in illness or behaviour do not seem to be responsible for this rise,’ he said.

‘The rise in antidepressant use is mainly explained by changes in the proportion of patients receiving long-term treatment.’

Previous studies have shown psychological therapies can be as effective as drugs in tackling mental health problems, and may work better in the long term.

NHS guidelines recommend this kind of treatment, including cognitive behavioural therapy, often in preference to drugs.

Research by five mental health charities found depressed patients were having wait for six to 18 months to get an appointment with an NHS counsellor  –  with many being forced to go private.

Many GPs admit prescribing antidepressant medications to patients because they can’t get access to talking therapies.

One Response to “Bleak Britain: Anti-depressant prescriptions soar even though illness declines”

  1. Lynn Says:

    Why are our governments not smart enough to understand that it costs less in the long run, in probably every possible way, to get the money for talk therapy instead of drugs.


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