TODAY, a group of medical professionals, researchers, patient representatives and politicians calls for the Government to reverse the rate of prescribing of antidepressants.
in the past decade, antidepressant prescriptions have almost doubled in England, from 47.3 million in 2011 to 85.6 million in 2022. more than 8.6 million adults in England are prescribed them annually, with prescriptions set to rise in the next decade.
the average time a person spends on an antidepressant has doubled between the mid-2000s and 2017, with around half of patients now classed as long-term users.
rising long-term use is associated with effects including weight gain, poorer long-term outcomes for some, sexual dysfunction, bleeding and falls. Withdrawal effects are experienced by about half of patients, with up to half of those describing their symptoms as severe; and many experiencing them for weeks, months or longer.
rising prescription rates have not led to improvement in mental health outcomes at the population level, which, according to some measures, have worsened.
Large- scale analyses have shown antidepressants to have no clinically meaningful benefit beyond placebo for all but the most severely depressed patients, yet rates of prescribing to patients with mild and moderate depression remain high.
For sufferers of chronic pain, the efficacy of antidepressants is very low; and there is evidence of disproportionate prescribing to women, older people and those living in deprived areas. and as well as the human costs, there are economic costs being incurred by the nhs in England of up to £58 million annually.
We believe a reversal can be achieved by: 1) stopping the prescribing of antidepressants for mild conditions; 2) adhering to niCE guidance on safe prescribing and withdrawal management; 3) Funding and delivering local withdrawal services; 4) including the reduction of antidepressant prescribing in the nhs Quality and Outcomes Framework; and 5) Funding and delivering a national 24-hour prescribed drug withdrawal helpline and website.
Lord (NIGeL) CrISP (Co-Chair, Beyond Pills All Party Parliamentary
Group); Professor Sir SAM everINGTON (vice President BMA, Deputy Chair, College of Medicine); Baroness Professor SHeILA HOLLINS (Professor of Psychiatry, St George’s,
University of London); Professor JOANNA MONCrIeFF (Professor of Critical and Social Psychiatry,
University College London); Dr JAMeS DAvIeS (Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology
and Psychology, University of roehampton, London); and another 17 signatories. (A full version of this letter, with all signatories, can be
viewed at dailymail.co.uk.)
dmg media (UK)