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SSRI use rockets as CBT access falls short

SSRI prescriptions leapt by 10% last year amid continuing shortages in access to psychological therapies.

Figures from the NHS Information Centre show that a year after Pulse highlighted the crisis in its Action on Depression campaign, GPs are still forced to resort to antidepressants.Despite NICE guidance in December 2004 that talking therapies be used first line in the treatment of mild depression, SSRI prescriptions rose to 16.2 million last year from 14.7 million in 2005.The jump came as Pulse's new investigation into service provision found some patients were still waiting up to a year for therapy, and a quarter of PCOs continued to offer no community-based service at all.GP experts said the increase in SSRI use was a result of access problems, coupled with the inclusion of depression in the quality framework.Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a member of the NICE guideline review panel on depression and a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, said: 'We continue to see waits of six to 12 months before patients can access CBT so GPs have to use SSRIs by default.'Prescriptions of citalopram, the most commonly used SSRI, rose by 23% to 6.27 million.

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