28 September 2011
THE number of Scots prescribed pills to combat depression has soared to record levels, with more than one in ten people now regularly taking antidepressant drugs.
The number of prescriptions for antidepressants handed out by medical professionals in Scotland rocketed last year to 4.66 million - up 7.6 per cent from 4.3m in the previous 12 months.
Meanwhile, a report published today demonstrates a persistent east-west divide in the risk of dying of coronary heart disease in Scotland. The Scottish Health Survey (SHS) has painted a picture of a nation of overweight people who avoid fruit and vegetables and take too little exercise.
A report by Heart UK showed the Ayrshire and Arran, Lanarkshire and Greater Glasgow health board areas had the highest coronary heart disease mortality rates in the country, while Fife, Lothian and Tayside have far lower rates.
The SHS revealed only 39 per cent of adults were getting their recommended daily amount of physical activity and that only 22 per cent met the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables.
The report into antidepressant use, released by the Scottish Government, showed 11.3 per cent of all Scots aged 15 and over take drugs such as Prozac or Cipramil on a daily basis. However, the cost of prescribing the drugs dropped by £1.6m compared with the previous year, to £30.6m.
Figures released by the NHS Prescription Services earlier this year showed there were 0.76 prescriptions of anti- depressants per head of population in England and Wales, while in Scotland, the figure was 0.88, despite SNP targets to cut their use.
Critics have called for therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy to be tried before GPs resort to drugs - but medical experts claim a combination of "talking" therapies and pills can be more effective than therapies alone. However, there are often long waiting lists for talking therapies on the NHS.
Dr Alex Yellowlees, medical director at the Priory Hospital in Glasgow, said: "Are GPs overprescribing antidepressants? And are they prescribing them for conditions that may not require antidepressants and not be responsive to them? Or are they prescribing them because it is quick and easy?
"GPs have very limited appointment times and for them to assess somebody properly and make a diagnosis of whether this is a clinical depression which may respond to medication is remarkably difficult."
Carolyn Roberts, head of policy and campaigns at the Scottish Association for Mental Health, said it was a "positive sign" that people were increasingly comfortable talking to GPs about mental health.
However, she added: "Once people have taken that step, we must ensure they receive the right treatment at the right time.
28 September 2011 10:30 AM
Health of the NHS