A dramatic rise in antidepressant prescriptions issued by GPs has been caused by a year on year increase in the number of people taking antidepressant drugs on a long-term basis, according to researchers from the University of Southampton.
In a paper, published in the printed edition of British Medical Journal (BMJ), scientists found that despite a drop in the number of new patients diagnosed with depression over 11 years, the number of prescriptions doubled.
"We estimate that more than 2 million people are now taking antidepressants long-term over several years, in particular women aged between 18 and 30," comments Tony Kendrick, a professor in Primary Medical Care of the University's School of Medicine, who led the study.
The number of prescriptions issued per patient rose from 2.8 in 1993 to 5.6 in 2004.
Prescription Pricing Authority data shows that more than 30 million prescriptions for SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac and Seroxat, are now issued per year, twice as many as the early 1990s. Researchers at the University of Southampton found 90 per cent of people diagnosed with depression are now taking SSRIs either continuously or as repeated courses over several years.
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