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Increase in use of anti-depressants

There has been a 4.7% increase in the volume of medicines prescribed to combat depression in Scotland the past year, figures have shown.

Health service statistics indicate that 9.7% of people aged over 15 are taking medication every day to combat depression.

The statistics are a concern for chief executive of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), Billy Watson, while Labour health spokesman Dr Richard Simpson said the figures were "extremely worrying".

A target has now been set by the Scottish Government to halt the increase in the amount of anti-depressants being used.

In Scotland between 2008 and 2009, a total of 4.01 million anti-depressants were prescribed - a rise of 178,650 on 2007-8 figures. However, a fall in the price of a number of drugs led to a decline in the cost from £40.4 million in 2007-08 to £35.8 million in 2008-09.

Mr Watson said: "We all know these are difficult times and the recession is having a widely reported impact on the mental health of the nation. However, SAMH is concerned that one in 10 of the adult population in Scotland is now taking anti-depressants regularly.

"SAMH believes that the best way to support people with mental health problems is to provide prompt access to a wide range of treatments, including talking therapies and exercise. But unfortunately, people are still being prescribed anti-depressants because other options are not routinely available to GPs."

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