Antidepressant prescribing has risen by 6% in the past 12 weeks


The NHS Business Services Authority has found that the overall rate of increase has slowed, despite a rise in antidepressant prescriptions. Over twenty million antidepressants were appointed between October and December last year, which is a six per cent increase in comparison to the same three months in 2019.

The statistics conveyed that twenty-three per cent more patients received an antidepressant in the third quarter of 2020/21 in comparison to the same period in 2015/16.

“Antidepressant prescribing has risen by 6% in the past 12 weeks.“

The statistics highlighted that the increase in antidepressant prescribing decelerated across 2020, with fewer drugs prescribed than what would have been required based on 2019 data.

President of the College of Mental Health Pharmacy, Ciara Ni Dhubhlaing, stated: “The increase in prescribing correlating with the lifting of lockdown restrictions in July is interesting as it may suggest that it may not be lockdown alone that is the issue, but rather the many stressors related to the pandemic. In clinical practice, I have seen a large increase in anxiety disorders, including social anxiety and panic attacks amongst those with no previous history of mental health difficulties as well as those with an anxiety disorder diagnosis.”

Director of pharmacy and pathology, Maudsley Hospital in south London, David Taylor, stated: “In this context, the rise in antidepressant prescribing is not unexpected. Although antidepressants are effective, they are not innocuous. Sudden cessation of treatment may lead to withdrawal symptoms and to an increased risk of relapse. Ideally, rates of prescribing should gradually fall as the lockdown eases.”

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