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Women's antidepressant use revealed

More than one in four women in Northern Ireland regularly take antidepressants to help them through their day-to-day lives, new research shows.

They are twice as likely as men to have been prescribed the drugs, and the problem in deprived areas such as north and west Belfast is particularly pronounced.

A total of 28% of the women questioned by the 2006/07 Drug Prevalence Survey by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) in Ireland and the Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit (DAIRU) in Northern Ireland said they use antidepressants.

Women are also high users of sedatives and tranquillisers, the study added.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug by both men and women, with more than a third of people aged between 15 and 34 using it.

And around 5% of those polled said they use cocaine, with less than 1% involved in the use of heroin, crack and methadone.

Community development officer Fra Stone said the problems people experienced during the Troubles have contributed to drug abuse.

He added: "You have to look at the situation we have come out of, a lot of people were dealing with antidepressants.

"That whole culture has built up among doctors that the easy option was to prescribe these."


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