Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

One in 10 'on anti-depressants' in Scotland

Generic pills
Experts want more alternatives to medication made available

Every 10th adult in Scotland is taking anti-depressant medication daily, according to health service statistics.

The figures showed 4.01 million anti-depressants were prescribed in 2008-09, an annual increase of 178,650.

And an estimated 9.7% of people aged 15 and above take medicine to combat depression every day.

The Scottish Association for Mental Health said it was "concerned" - the government said it was pleased the rate of increase had slowed.

The Scottish government has a target of stopping the increased use of anti-depressants.

Billy Watson, chief executive of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) charity, said a range of treatment should be available to patients, including exercise referral scheme, psychological therapy and fast access to mental health services.

It is encouraging that the rate of increase in prescribing of anti-depressants has slowed significantly
Shone Robison
Public health minister

He claimed GPs were often left with little option but to prescribe anti-depressants because these other options were not available.

"For example, we know that exercise can be good for your mental health but in too many areas, exercise referral schemes and other services are only available during working hours," he said.

"Given this, it's no wonder GPs keep prescribing anti-depressants.

Mr Watson, who said the recession was having an impact on the mental health of the nation, added: "We also want the government to announce an achievable plan to achieve the 10% reduction in anti-depressant prescribing in the future".

Labour health spokesman Dr Richard Simpson MSP, a member of the Royal College of Psychiatry, also called for more use of alternatives to anti-depressant medication.

He said: "These figures are extremely worrying. The SNP government promised to stabilise the prescription of anti-depressants but they have failed to do so and numbers continue to rise."

The figures also showed the number of prescriptions for drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder increased by 6.2% between 2007-08 and 2008-09.

'Very serious'

And the number of drugs prescribed for dementia patients increased by 13.2%.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Ross Finnie said this rise meant "an extra hit of over £1m to the public purse".

Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon MSP said: "Given that 35% of all current GP appointments stem from stress, anxiety and depression, the increase in anti-depressant prescribing is very serious indeed."

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said how drugs were prescribed is a clinical decision by doctors.

In many cases, the drugs had helped patients live normal lives instead of being "disabled" by mental health conditions, she added.

Ms Robison said: "Nevertheless, it is encouraging that the rate of increase in prescribing of anti-depressants has slowed significantly.

"At the same time, we have been working hard with NHS boards to improve access to non-drug treatments, such as talking therapies."



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SEE ALSO
'Mental illness gene' discovered
26 Nov 09 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Anti-depressants 'not overused'
15 Sep 09 |  North East/N Isles
Group therapy 'beats depression'
01 Dec 08 |  Health

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