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Antidepressant prescribing up five per cent on last year

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Antidepressant prescribing up five per cent on last year

The number of antidepressants dispensed in the community rose by five per cent in the first three months of this year, new NHS statistics reveal.

The NHS Business Services Authority’s latest report on mental health medicines statistics shows that 83.4 million antidepressant drug items were prescribed in that period, up 5.07 per cent on 2020-21 year-whole figures.  

Meanwhile, the number of identified patients receiving antidepressants rose by 5.7 per cent to 83.4 million.

This is the sixth consecutive year in which both the number of patients and antidepressant scripts has risen, although NHS BSA noted that in 2019-20 and 2020-21 the rate of increase was slower than in previous years.

Women aged 50 to 59 were the most likely to receive prescriptions for antidepressants, as well as for antipsychotics, hypnotics and anxiolytics. CNS stimulants and ADHD medicines were the only drug categories more commonly prescribed to men, with the latter prescribed to roughly twice as many men as women.

Dementia medicine statistics show a slight increase in prescription items and patients between January and March this year (0.46 per cent and 0.52 per cent respectively), with the growth in patients marking a return to a long-term trend following a decrease in 2020-21.

All five drug categories considered in the NHS BSA report were prescribed more often to those living in socio-economically deprived areas. This was most pronounced in the case of drugs to treat psychoses and related disorders, which were prescribed almost three times as often to individuals in the most deprived areas compared to those in the least deprived.

CNS drugs and ADHD medicines were most commonly prescribed to male patients aged between 10 and 14, while dementia medicines were prescribed most often to female patients aged 85 to 89.

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