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Record 64.7m anti-depressant prescriptions handed out in 2016

The number of anti-depressant prescriptions has more than doubled in the last decade.

The number of prescriptions handed out for anti-depressants is at an all-time high, figures show.

Prescriptions for the drugs across England rose by 3.7 million items in 2016, from 61 million to 64.7 million, according to data from NHS Digital.

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(PA graphics)

The number of anti-depressant prescriptions has more than doubled in the last decade – in 2006 there were 31 million such prescriptions.

The new data on drugs also showed that medicines to treat diabetes cost the most money – accounting for a spend of £984.2 million in 2016 (or £2.7 million per day).

This is a rise of £47.6 million between 2015 and 2016.

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Medicines to treat diabetes cost the most money (Peter Byrne/PA)

Overall, 47% more prescription items were dispensed compared with a decade ago, with 1,104 million dispensed in 2016.

Dr Kate Lovett, dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “For many milder episodes of depression, talking therapies will be recommended as the first line.

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(Anthony Devlin/PA)

“However, there is evidence that for people who have recurrent episodes of depression longer use of anti-depressants reduces incidence of relapse and in certain situations this will be clinically appropriate.

“Anti-depressants are used in the treatment of both depression and anxiety disorders.

“They are an evidence-based treatment for moderate to severe depression and their prescription should be reviewed regularly in line with clear national guidance.”

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