Prescriptions for antidepressants cost NHS more than £750,000 per day

Between October 2015 and September 2016, the number of prescriptions rose seven per cent from 59.5 million to nearly 63.6 million, according to NHS Digital.

The four million rise equates to an annual cost of £285million.

Over 20 years antidepressant prescriptions have risen more than fourfold. 

The numbers do not necessarily mean the number of people using antidepressants is increasing by the same amount. People could also be using them for longer.

Research from London’s University College Hospital revealed a quarter of users now take antidepressants for around 15 months, compared to eight months 20 years ago.

Dr James Davies, of the University of Roehampton, said people experiencing difficulty with withdrawal and a lack of alternative options could be behind the rise. 

The figures were revealed to the 5 live Investigates team and will be broadcast on Radio 5 at 11a.m. today.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “A rise in the number of prescriptions does not necessarily mean a rise in the number of patients.

“More frequent prescriptions for a shorter period allow medication to be reviewed more often and can cut down wastage.”

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