thenorthernecho.co.uk Sunday 4th August 2013
New figures have yet again shown up the North-East as England’s sick man, with worryingly high levels of depression prevalent in the region.
Of the ten Primary Care Trust (PCT) areas with the highest ratio of adults taking anti-depressants six are in the North-East, according to the national health analysis unit the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
Each month, one in seven adults picks up a prescription in Redcar and Cleveland, County Durham, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Gateshead and North Tyneside.
The situation is worst in Redcar and Cleveland, where the ratio one in every 6.37 adults taking the pills, putting it behind only Blackpool and Barnsley nationally.
But the ratio is worse than one in nine in every North-East PCT area.
In County Durham, the number of patients prescribed anti-depressants was higher than the number of people estimated to suffer from depression and anxiety by the NHS England’s Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (63,700 to 55,300).
At the other end of the spectrum, in Brent, in north-west London, just one in 22.96 adults take anti-depressants.
The North-East figures have been blamed on poor job prospects and poor health.
The region has the highest unemployment rate in England and disposable household income is 15 per cent below the UK average.
Only last week, the HSCIC published data showing the North-East had England’s highest number of school children experimenting with drinking and smoking (51 per cent).
But others argue the North-East is gradually defeating the taboo of discussing mental health.
Earlier this summer, County Durham-born actress Denise Welch talked openly about her 25-year battle with depression and goalkeeper Steve Harper conceded he had probably been depressed during his long Newcastle United career.
Last year, North Durham MP Kevan Jones revealed in the House of Commons that he had suffered from deep depression in the mid-1990s.
Nationally, more than 50 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were issued last year – the highest ever and 7.5 per cent up on the year before.