RPS responds to rise in prescribing of antidepressants

Why has antidepressant prescribing risen so much in recent years?

Responding to prescribing data published by NHS Digital which shows that prescriptions for antidepressants have more than doubled in the past decade, Professor David Taylor, RPS spokesperson on mental health and Director of Pharmacy and Pathology at the Maudsley Hospital said: 

“There are a number of reasons why antidepressant prescribing has increased in recent years.

“Firstly, the duration of treatment has steadily increased as we have learned more about how to use antidepressants – 15 years ago treatment lasted less than 3 months on average, but now we know it should continue for 6 to 9 months once symptoms have been resolved.

“Secondly, some anti-depressants are now prescribed for other conditions, such as stress incontinence and nerve pain and anxiety, as they’ve been found to be effective.

“Lastly, antidepressants used to be expensive medicines and there was tight control over their use.  Now, most are generic and inexpensive and the benefits of prescribing these effective medicines easily outweigh the costs. All these factors have seen a welcome increase in prescribing treatments for this illness not only in the UK but worldwide.”