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Somerset anti-depressants numbers rise
1:00pm Sunday 25th August 2013 in Somerset
A NATIONAL mental health charity says more needs to be done to cut the number of people taking anti-depressants.
In Somerset, nearly half a million prescriptions for anti-depressants were handed out in 2012/13 – a 29% increase in the last five years.
Figures obtained from NHS Somerset show in 2008/09 there were 371,000 prescriptions for anti-depressants dispensed to Somerset patients at a cost of approximately £182,000.
By 2012/13, this had increased to 480,000 prescriptions but cost around £154,000 as the price of drugs has reduced in recent years.
The charity Mind has a base in Taunton covering the town along with West Somerset to promote good mental health and provide support for people.
Mind’s chief executive Paul Farmer said the rise of anti-depressants prescriptions shows no signs of stopping.
He added: “If this means more people feel able to come forward and seek help then this is a positive sign.
“However, we need to better understand exactly how many people are taking antidepressants, for how long and whether they are receiving other treatment alongside medication, as recommended in NICE guidance.
“We must remember that while anti-depressants can be very effective for some, they are not the solution for everyone and they should never be used as a first-line treatment for mild depression.”
According to the World Health Organisation, by 2020 depression is expected to be a leading cause of disability worldwide, second only to cardiovascular disease.
An NHS Somerset spokesman said: “National charities have said the recent rise in depression, stress and anxiety in England is attributable to the downturn in the national economy and all the associated problems that can come with unemployment, poverty, debt, and family breakdown.
“Evidence shows that talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be as effective in relieving the symptoms of mild mental illhealth as anti-depressants.
“Around 95% of people with stress, anxiety and depressions referred to the Somerset Partnership Trust’s ‘Talking Therapies Service’, are seen within four weeks of referral although the partnership trust acknowledges they are seeing a growing rise in referrals.”
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