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Call for review of antidepressant use

A study which shows that a third of women have taken antidepressants has prompted calls for a review of prescription guidelines.

Research by women's campaign group, Platform 51, has found that one in three women have relied on antidepressants at least once in their lives, and 57% of those where prescribed the medication were not given an alternative to manage their condition, it said.

Nearly half (48%) of the women taking antidepressants now have been using the drugs for a minimum of five years, and around a quarter (24%) have been on antidepressants for 10 years or more.

The charity, which polled over 2,000 adults across England and Wales, said many women taking the drugs are having to wait too long for their reviews.

In 24% of the cases, the reviews have not been carried out even after a year or longer.

Platform 51 said the findings raised 'worrying questions' and called for another look at how antidepressants are prescribed and used.

Rebecca Gill, Director of Policy, Campaigns and Communications, said: "The current NICE guidelines are not being followed: women want more checks to make sure the medication use is right for them and they want more choice when it comes to receiving treatment."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I continue to be alarmed at the number of people in general but perhaps women more, that are on antidepressants and have been on for years. Elderly people who just seem to continue for no valid reason is very common. They are prescribed too easily or more to the point, are not followed up and stopped. After a certain length of time, it is more difficult to get off them so earlier intervention should be the norm and
offering of alternatives more easily available" - Jane, Cambs

"Depression is the easiest option to diagnose. Others, like thyroid, or B12 deficiency, could be the cause of the symptoms. Tablets for depression can add to the problem as they tend to slow down the patient, when in fact, the reverse is needed" - Roy Sandiford, Poulton

"As a retired health visitor and practising hypnotherapist I have long experience of seeing women who could have been helped to manage their depression, simply being given medication. Health visitors are no longer able to give required support after childbirth, and brief therapy is nowhere near sufficiently available to GPs as the first choice referral. Depression is almost always an extreme response to life's stressors. We need to understand ways to manage them rather than popping pills. Giving young people (under 23) drugs when their brains are not fully formed is asking for trouble" - Susan Freeman, Kent