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Antidepressant prescribing growing faster than other areas

Antidepressants saw the biggest increase in prescribing of any prescribed drug with 64.7 million items dispensed in 2016, 3.7 million more than in 2015, official data reveals.

The ‘Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2006-2016’ report, released by NHS Digital today, also shows that antidepressant prescribing has more than doubled in the past decade.

And this is the fourth successive year that antidepressant prescribing has seen the biggest increase in prescribing of any drug, but hypertension and heart failure drugs remain the most dispensed overall.

Earlier studies have shown GPs prescribing fewer antidepressants to patients newly diagnosed with depression but treatment ranges for patients with recurrent bouts of depression have increased, which has meant that overall dispensing remains high.

University of Southampton researchers have shown that rates of depression, particularly among working age men, have grown since the 2008 financial crash.

Diabetes drugs remain the most costly item to the NHS with a spend of £984.2m – £2.7m per day – an increase of 5.1% on 2015.