Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Concern over anti-depressant rise

Concerns have been voiced about the usage of anti-depressants

Health experts have voiced concerns over the rising level of anti-depressant use in south west Scotland.

The number of people taking such drugs in Dumfries and Galloway has increased by 10% in the past three years.

It is now estimated that one in 12 of the region's adult population is being prescribed anti-depressants.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway medical director Dr Angus Cameron said he feared medication was being handed out without fully considering alternatives.

"I think our main concern is that we know from a lot of evidence and a lot of guidelines that anti-depressants don't help if you have an acute bout of mild to moderate depression," he said.

"You may take them and you may be better several weeks later.

"But actually research is showing that you would get better without them."

Specialist services

Dr Cameron said it was worth looking at other options to assist patients.

"What I worry about is that we are sometimes giving medication to help people through their reactions to stresses in life," he said.

"It would be far better to help people with counselling and directing them to the specialist services that would help."

He added that he was aware GPs were in a difficult situation with a lack of time combined with patients who wanted "the convenience of believing a tablet will take away their worries".

"There is a pressure that mounts up on GPs to prescribe," he said.

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