Antidepressant use soars

Recession drives more Britons on to medication

Prescriptions for antidepressants increased by more than 2 million in 2008, leading to concerns that the recession is having a big effect on mental health.

In total, 36 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written in 2008, an increase of 24% in five years.

There is lots of anecdotal evidence linking the recession to an increase in mental health difficulties. Victoria Walsh at the charity Rethink, reported a surge in people seeking help to the Guardian. ‘We are seeing people coming in who have been high fliers and now find life without their jobs overwhelming,’ she said.

Experts are concerned that antidepressants are being prescribed as a ‘quick fix’. ‘Doctors want their patients to have effective, long-term help, and drugs must not be the only answer,’ said the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, Norman Lamb. ‘Urgent action is needed to ensure psychological therapies are available to those who need them.’

The Government announced a scheme earlier this year that will see people suffering from depression referred for therapy. It has promised to train 3,600 more therapists and hundreds of specialist nurses.

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