Over prescription of antidepressants is causing “harm” to the public, a paper published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) claimed today.
Clinicians are prescribing antidepressants “too easily, for too long and they are effective for few people,” Dr Des Spence said.
The Glasgow based GP added: “Improving society’s wellbeing is not in the gift of medicine nor mere medication and overprescribing antidepressants serves as a distraction from a wider debate about why we are so unhappy as a society.”
Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show antidepressant prescriptions increased by 9.6% in ten years.
Antidepressants also had the largest increase in the number of items dispensed between 2001 and 2011, according to statistics.
Sounding a note of caution in a paper published at the same time, Professor Ian Reid said antidepressants have been “demonised” by the media.
The professor of Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen said: “Careless reporting is adding to the stigmatisation of mental illness and erecting unnecessary barriers to effective care.”
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines do not support the use of antidepressant medication in mild depression or as a first line treatment.
In his paper, Dr Spence refers to a Cochrane review that suggests only one in seven people benefit from taking antidepressants.
He wrote: “Millions of people are enduring at least six months of ineffective treatment.”
But Professor Reid from the University of Aberdeen pointed out that antidepressants are just one treatment available and that the rise in prescriptions is due to “increases in the length of treatment”.