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Anti-depressant use rises

9th November 2007

A new NHS report has shown that anti-depressant prescriptions given to patients in Scotland have risen considerably in the last 15 years.

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The report was produced by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (NQIS), which gives advice on good clinical practice and also acts to monitor NHS performance.

The report showed that 85 doses of anti-depressants per 1,000 people were given every day in 2006, in comparison to 19 doses in 1992. It also found that women were more likely to see their family doctor about being depressed.

Dr Harpreet Kohli, a medical adviser for NQIS, contributed the rise in part to new medicines which offered options for "treatment...with fewer side-effects."

In addition he said he thought it was probable that "a range of social and medical issues" contributed to the increase in prescriptions.

Depression is known to affect around one fifth of the population during their lives.

Shona Neil, chief executive of the Scottish Association for Mental Health, said: "There are a lot of people being prescribed anti-depressants inappropriately."

She said that GPs were in "a difficult position" because of the brief amount of time they have to diagnose their patients and were unable to address patients' problems fully.

Ms Neil called for other types of treatment and referral, such as counselling and physical activity, to be considered. She also said that research carried out five years before proved that "a high percentage of patients" taking new medication still suffered side effects.

 




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