Nearly half a million more adults on antidepressants in England


Nearly half a million more adults in England are now taking antidepressants compared with the previous year, according to NHS figures.

The number of prescriptions for children and teenagers has also risen.

From 2021-22, there was a 5% rise in the number of adults receiving them - from 7.9 million in the previous 12 months to 8.3 million.

It is the sixth year in a row that there has been an increase in both patients and prescriptions.

An estimated 83.4 million antidepressant drug items were prescribed between 2021 and 2022, which marks a 5% increase from the previous year.

There was also a rise of just over 8% in youngsters taking the medication too - from 10,994 to 11,878 among 10 to 14-year-olds and from 166,922 to 180,455 in the 15 to 19-year-olds.

The data found women were also twice as likely to be prescribed antidepressants as men.

At-home carer Fiona Robertson is 35 and has been taking antidepressants since 2013 to improve her mental health.

She tells the BBC they have been a "lifesaver" and "instrumental in my recovery".

Fiona says there is still a lot of stigma around taking them and when she's looked to social media support groups, people have expressed their resistance to the drugs.

"People are made to feel shamed, to feel like they are not resilient enough or lazy and want a quick fix," she says.

"I've seen people giving advice to exercise or eat healthily instead of taking these drugs, and I think this can put people off going to the doctor about it."

She wants people to feel less scared about seeking help..

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said in November that people with mild depression should be first offered exercise or therapy rather than antidepressants.

It also recommended group classes in meditation or behavioural therapy and individual counselling sessions in some instances.

Alexa Knight, who is in charge of policy at charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: "The fallout from the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis mean we should undoubtedly be concerned around the current pressures on people's mental health.

"But the rising number of antidepressant prescriptions could also be a welcome indicator that people feel more comfortable seeking support when they need it."

She added that it is important people are offered different treatments based on the severity of their depression.

Source: Annabel Rackham, BBC News

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