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‘Accelerated’ antidepressant prescribing rate uncovered

29 May 2014

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There has been a “significant acceleration” in the amount of antidepressants prescribed by GPs since the financial crisis and recession. 

Research released by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation showed wide variation in prescription numbers between GP practices, even with similar patient groups. 

The researchers have suggested that antidepressants are being under- and over-prescribed in many parts of England. 

The report shows that the amount of antidepressants dispensed in the community rose by 25 million between 1998 and 2012. 

Almost half of that increase occurred in the four years between the 2008 financial crisis and 2012, the last year for which data are available. This means that the annual rise in prescriptions has risen to 8.5% per year since the banking crash, compared to 6.7% before.

Adam Roberts, senior research analyst and report co-author, Nuffield Trust said: “It’s striking that GPs were prescribing an extra 2.7 million antidepressants in 2012, compared to the trend we saw during the years of economic growth.” 

The research is available to view on the QualityWatch website

QualityWatch is a research programme from the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, providing independent scrutiny into how the quality of health and social care is changing over time.