Antidepressant prescriptions rise 70 per cent in a decade

Prescriptions of antidepressants in Scotland have risen 70 per cent in the last decade, new figures from Public Health Scotland reveal.
Antidepressant use has soared in ScotlandAntidepressant use has soared in Scotland
Antidepressant use has soared in Scotland

Some 187 daily doses of antidepressants were prescribed per 1000 population in Scotland in 2018/19, an almost 70 per cent increase on the same figure a decade earlier, and an eight per cent increase on the previous year.

The prescription of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) saw a similar increase.

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Prescriptions of antipsychotics and drugs for ADHD and Dementia have also increased steadily since 2010/11, while that of hypnotics and anxiolytics – used to treat anxiety – have decreased.

Doctors in NHS Lanarkshire prescribed the most mental health drugs, at 210 daily doses per 1000 population, while those in the Western Isles prescribed the least, at 146.

The cost to NHS Scotland for antidepressants and ADHD drugs has increased in the past ten years, which Public Health Scotland said reflects an increase in usage and for antidepressants the impact of shortages and price adjustments.

The cost for dementia drugs has decreased, primarily due to reductions in drug prices and drugs coming out of patent.

The report also shows higher use of mental health drugs by people living in more deprived areas, which aligns with previous evidence that those in deprived areas report worse mental wellbeing.

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said: “There has been much campaigning over the past decade to raise awareness that depression can be treated.

"Anti-depressant medication has an important role in the effective treatment of severe depression and a range of anxiety disorders.

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"The College urges clinicians to prescribe only in the context of psychological support and monitoring.

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"We also provide patients with information and discussion of the potential side effects of starting, maintaining and safely stopping the different anti-depressant drugs."

On average women are prescribed double the amount of antidepressants than men in Scotland.

Most mental health drugs are prescribed more to women than to men – with the exception of ADHD drugs, where almost 80 per cent are prescribed to men.

The 50-54 age group is prescribed the most antidepressants per 1000 population, with those under 20 prescribed the least.

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