Antidepressant use soared during recession in England, study finds

via theguardian.com 28th May 2014

The use of antidepressants rose significantly in England during the financial crisis and subsequent recession, with 12.5m more pills prescribed in 2012 than in 2007, a study has found.

Researchers from the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation identified a long-term trend of increasing prescription of antidepressants, rising from 15m items in 1998 to 40m in 2012. But the yearly rate of increase accelerated during the banking crisis and recession to 8.5%, compared to 6.7% before it.

The report also found that rises in unemployment were associated with significant increases in the number of antidepressants dispensed and that areas with poor housing tended to see significantly higher antidepressant use.

Nick Barber, director of research at the Health Foundation, said that the report, published on Wednesday, was the “most accurate and insightful study of medication in this area in this country” and raised questions about whether people were being treated appropriately.

“The rate of increase in prescribing had been still for some years and does seem to have increased from 2008 so it would suggest that recession and some of the associated problems such as unemployment could be part of it,” he said. “If depression has increased as well as the prescribing the question is: ‘Is it being treated properly?’ There’s also an economic question at the time of recession as to whether we’re using our medicine resources as well as we could be.”

The report says a rise in unemployment and in the cost of living during the recession “could have an impact on the prevalence of mental health problems and require changes in the service delivered”, although it does not specify what those changes should be.

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