Last year Doctors in Wales issued more prescriptions for depression than there are people in the country.
A total of 3.5 million prescriptions were issued in Wales in 2010, in a population of three million people. By contrast in Scotland in the same year, 4.3 million prescriptions were issued among a population of 5.2 million. In England the most recent figures, for 2009, showed there were 39.1 million prescriptions compared to a 52.5 million population.
Alun Thomas, Deputy Chief Executive of mental health charity Hafal, said the “medicalisation” of depression after a bereavement, or a major life change, may be one explanation for the figures.
“Many of these prescriptions may not have been the best option,” he said.
“As a society we’ve fallen into a trap of thinking something is depression rather than life circumstances.
“Quite often the problem with people taking anti-depressants is that people will feel better but when it comes time to come off them the problem is still there.”
Mr Thomas said GPs the charity has spoken to are under huge pressure, working in a system that currently leaves even sectioned mental health patients waiting for talking therapies.
He said: “If GPs had the option to prescribe talking therapy where they thought it would help then it might have the impact of reducing the number of prescriptions, which would ultimately pay for this service.”
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