Page last updated at 23:09 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 00:09 UK

Anti-depressant use rises again

The SNP manifesto promised to reduce prescriptions of anti-depressant drugs

The use of anti-depressants in Scotland has continued to rise despite a promise to tackle overprescribing.

Health boards last year recorded 3.9 million prescriptions, up from 3.6 million in 2006, official figures said.

The SNP's manifesto two years ago said it aimed to reduce the use of anti-depressants by 10% by 2009 as part of a plan to improve mental health.

The Scottish Government said it hoped to halt the rise through investment in alternative therapies.

The figures were disclosed by Health Minister Shona Robison in a parliamentary answer to the Liberal Democrats.

Lib Dem health spokesman Ross Finnie said: "The health secretary has 12 months to reverse this trend or add mental health to the SNP's list of broken promises.

"The Scottish Government must find out if there has been an increase in the number of people reporting symptoms of depression, or if doctors are just prescribing more drugs in the absence of alternative therapies."

The figures show rises in every NHS area, including an increase from 291,833 to 323,627 in Grampian over three years.

Prescriptions rose from 995,638 to almost 1.1 million in Greater Glasgow and Clyde over the same period.

Alternative therapies

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the "prime concern" was that people receive the right medical treatment.

She added: "As a first step we have set a target to reduce the growth in prescribing of anti-depressants to zero by 2010 and are investing in alternatives to drugs.

"Latest figures show an 11% increase in the numbers of psychologists and mental health staff in the past year, which will result in improved access to talking therapies in NHS Scotland.

"At the same time, it is important to remember that many of these medications have enabled patients who previously would have been disabled by their mental health condition to return to normal and high quality life in the community."

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