Antidepressant prescribing has more than doubled in a decade and is now costing the NHS £780,000 per day, official data has shown.
An analysis by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed there were 61m antidepressant drugs prescribed in 2015, 31.6m more than in 2005 – representing an increase of 108%.
Comparing 2015 to 2014, there was a 3.9m increase (6.8%) in antidepressant prescriptions, leading to a rise in total cost to £284.7m (7.4%).
However despite the rise in the number of items prescribed the cost to the NHS of antidepressant precriptions had actually fallen in the last ten-year period, by £53.8m.
The report said this was because the prices of branded generic drugs (category M) fluctuated during the period.
RCGP’s clinical lead for mental health Dr Liz England said there could be ‘a number of reasons for increased antidepressant prescribing’ including ‘positive steps forward’ such as ‘greater awareness of mental health problems in society, and that patients are less inhibited to seek medical help for them’.
She said: ‘GPs are highly trained to deal with patients of all ages with mental health conditions, and prescribe accordingly and appropriately.
‘Prescribing is a core skill for GPs and patients can be assured that their family doctor will prescribe medication only when necessary, taking into account other medications being taken and when other alternatives, such as talking or mindfulness therapies, have been explored.’