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.
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.
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.
“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.”