Rise In Antidepressant Use

30 September 2014, 15:20 | Updated: 30 September 2014, 15:26

New figures show a rise in the number of patients being prescribed antidepressants.

Statistics show that 778,180 patients were dispensed at least one antidepressant during 2013/14.

The figure represents an increase of 4.2% from 2012/13 when the number stood at 747,158 patients, and an increase of 22.8% since 2009/10.

More than 518,000 patients were female while almost 260,000 were male.

Opposition parties raised concerns about the levels of prescribing, with the Tories stating that the figure means almost 15% of the population has been diagnosed with depression.

The council areas with the highest rates were Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Ayrshire and Arran while island health boards had the lowest incidence level.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: "The number of people being treated for depression is rising every year and there is absolutely no sign of that trend changing.

"This is despite a promise by the SNP more than seven years ago that it would halt the increase in antidepressants being handed out.

"Of course, these pills have a place to treat mild to moderate depression, but we have to start properly exploring alternatives.

"The Scottish Government must come up with a sincere and coherent plan on how to turn these damning statistics around.''

Scottish Labour health spokesman Neil Findlay said: "We must look at the underlying causes behind the rise in the number of antidepressants being prescribed.

"Of course we want to ensure people with mental health problems come forward and are treated for their condition, we cannot see a situation where those in need are simply being parked on medications.

"We were told that mental health is a priority area for this Government but we need to see bold ambition not just warm words from the SNP.''

The figures also show that 8,924 patients received treatment for ADHD in 2013/14, up 12.7% compared to 2012/13 and an increase of 33% since 2009/10.

Prescribing for dementia was also up by 16.7%, with 23,063 patients dispensed at least one drug for the condition during 2013/14 compared with 19,763 patients 2012/13.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government has long worked hard to reduce the stigma faced by people with mental health problems.

"As this stigma declines we would expect more patients to seek help from their GPs for problems such as depression.

"Any prescribing is a clinical decision and there is good evidence that GPs in Scotland assess and treat depression appropriately, and that GPs in Scotland are more likely to be working to clinical practice and guidelines than elsewhere.

"People with mental illness should expect the same standard of care as people with physical illness and should receive medication if they need it.

"While we ensure those who need medication continue to receive it, we are also committed to improving access to alternatives, such as psychological therapies, that increase choice and best accommodate patient preference.''