Antidepressant use four times higher in Northern England than London

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The variance in geographical prescription rates for antidepressants in the UK has been revealed.

The new figures indicate that the number of pills provided to patients in sections of the North is almost four times higher than in sections of London.

The overall number of tablets which were prescribed during 2012 was 12.5 million higher than it was during 2007.

The research, which was compiled by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, has raised concerns about the quantity of pills being handed out and that patients are not being treated correctly.

Although the rate of antidepressant use has increased steadily, the rate was much higher during the recession when it increased by 8.5% a year instead of the average 6.7%.

Researchers found a big variance in the geographical number of prescriptions handed out. The highest rate was in Blackpool, which was four times as high as pills handed out in the Brent borough of London.

The study indicated that most of the ‘bottom 10’ for prescriptions was based in London.

The report found that areas where more white people resided, elderly people and females had higher prescription levels.

A separate conclusion indicated that the increase in prescriptions over the 14 year period was not only linked to an increase in depression levels, but was also linked to prescription patterns of general practitioners.

Dr Cosmo Hallström of the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated that he believed that the rising use of antidepressants is a step in the right direction as regards treatment and awareness of depression. However, he added the importance of patients being seen within a few weeks of commencing medication to check on their progress.

The Director of Research at the Health Foundation, Nick Barber, said that the rate of prescription had remained constant for many years and appears to have increased since 2008. This would suggest that the recession and the problems associated with it, such as unemployment, may be playing a role in the increased figures. He added that if depression and prescriptions have increased, is the condition being treated properly?

Image Credit: Amanda Hatfield

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