Anti-depressant prescriptions up by 18 per cent in West Suffolk in three years
Doctors in west Suffolk have been prescribing more anti-depressants over the last three years, according to NHS data.
General Practitioners have called on the Government to increase funding for psychotherapist services to rely less on these drugs as more people seek help for mental health problems.
Figures show that antidepressant prescriptions in west Suffolk clinical commissioning group (CCG) went up by 18 per cent from 2014/15 to 2017/18, the latest period with updated data.
Over that period, the number of registered patients in the area hardly varied, rising by three per cent.
From April 2017 to March 2018, medical services prescribed antidepressants 407,041 times, 60,894 more than three years earlier. The figures account for the total number of items prescribed by GPs in the NHS, so several of them could have been issued for the same patient.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the trend should not be automatically seen as a bad thing and could indicate that 'more patients feel able to disclose mental health problems' and seek medical care.
She added: "Antidepressants are of proven benefit for many patients, but no patient wants to be reliant on any medication long-term and where possible we will explore alternatives, such as talking therapies.
"However, there is a severe lack of these services in the community."
The increase in antidepressants prescriptions in west Suffolk was in line with than the average for England, where it has risen by 18 per cent since 2014/15.
An NHS England spokesperson said: “The NHS is significantly improving mental health treatment as part of an ambitious long-term plan, to increase access to treatments like cognitive behaviour therapy and other talking therapies.”