Thursday, 19 April 2012

Antidepressants in the UK

Here is an interesting question that came to my attention today (19th April 2012):

Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs were issued in each region of the UK in each of the last three years; and what estimate he has made of the proportion of the population issued with such prescriptions.

·                     Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 18 April 2012, c413W)
And the answer was no less interesting:

Simon Burns (Minister of State (Health), Health; Chelmsford, Conservative)

Information is only available on prescription items dispensed in the community in England.

The following table shows the number of prescription items dispensed for drugs classified as antidepressant drugs in British National Formulary section 4.3 for the last three years.

Number of prescription items (thousand)

Source: Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system

Information on the number of patients prescribed a particular medicine (or class of medicine) is not collected. It is therefore not possible to estimate the proportion of the population in England that have received anti-depressant prescription items.

It may be the case that it isn’t possible to know what proportion of people living in England are taking antidepressants, but 46,678,000 last year is an awful lot of prescriptions nonetheless.  I wrote about this in my article called B’org Mentality.  The only point I would add here is that these figures indicate that the nation is not getting happier as the years go by.  Seven million more prescriptions were written in 2011 than a mere two years earlier.  That’s some progress.

For anyone struggling with this health issue, I'd recommend my article called Down in the Doldrums? for some tips on how to beat depression naturally.