Study reveals an increase in long-term antidepressant drug use

Oct 22, 2009

A dramatic rise in antidepressant prescriptions issued by GPs has been caused by a year on year increase in the number of people taking antidepressant drugs on a long-term basis, according to researchers from the University of Southampton.

In a paper, published in the printed edition of (BMJ) tomorrow, scientists found that despite a drop in the number of new patients diagnosed with depression over 11 years, the number of prescriptions doubled.

"We estimate that more than 2 million people are now taking long-term over several years, in particular women aged between 18 and 30," comments Tony Kendrick, a professor in Primary Medical Care of the University's School of Medicine, who led the study.

The number of prescriptions issued per patient rose from 2.8 in 1993 to 5.6 in 2004.

Prescription Pricing Authority data shows that more than 30 million prescriptions for SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac and Seroxat, are now issued per year, twice as many as the early 1990s. Researchers at the University of Southampton found 90 per cent of people diagnosed with depression are now taking SSRIs either continuously or as repeated courses over several years.

Professor Kendrick adds: "Our previous research found that although these drugs are said not to be addictive, many patients found it difficult to come off them, due to including anxiety. Many wanted more help from their GP to come off the drugs. We don't know how many really need them and whether long-term use is harmful. This has similarities to the situation with Valium in the past."

The research team analysed all new cases of between 1993 and 2005 from anonymous computerised general practice records covering 170 GP surgeries and 1.7 million registered patients.

Source: University of Southampton

Explore further: Oregon Medicaid targets expensive hepatitis drug

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A link between antidepressants and type 2 diabetes

Mar 25, 2008

While analyzing data from Saskatchewan health databases, Lauren Brown, researcher with the U of A’s School of Public Health, found people with a history of depression had a 30 per cent increased risk of type 2 Diabetes.

Falls, depression and antidepressants in later life

Jun 18, 2008

Older people are at high risk for falls and subsequent injuries. Those who have depression have an increased risk of falls and the medications they take for depression increase their risk even more, New Zealand and Australian ...

Link Between Antidepressants and Birth Defect

Sep 29, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers in Denmark have studied almost half a million Danish children and found a slightly higher rate of septal heart abnormalities in babies whose mothers took an SSRI antidepressant ...

Recommended for you

FDA to start regulating lab-developed tests

17 hours ago

(AP)—The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it will begin regulating laboratory-developed tests, a growing class of medical diagnostics that have never before been subject to federal oversight.

Determine patient preferences by means of conjoint analysis

Jul 29, 2014

The Conjoint Analysis (CA) method is in principle suitable to find out which preferences patients have regarding treatment goals. However, to widely use it in health economic evaluations, some (primarily methodological) issues ...

User comments : 0