Prescription figures 'show more seeking help for their depression'
The head of depression charity Aware says the rising demand for antidepressants here suggests that more people are visiting their GP to discuss mental health concerns.
Aware chief executive Karen Collins was reacting to figures in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph which revealed that the number of antidepressants issued in Northern Ireland has surged by 25% in five years.
In the past year alone, more than 3.1m prescriptions were handed out - 8,500 a day on average. In 2013/14 some 2,485,000 prescriptions were issued, rising to 2,657,000 in 2014/15, 2,828,000 in 2015/16 and 2,989,000 in 2016/17.
Across that five-year period, the cost of treating depression came to more than £66m, according to the Health and Social Care Board.
The growing figures have led to calls for more work to treat mental illness.
Previous studies have shown that we had one of the highest rates in the world for use of antidepressants.
Responding to the findings, Ms Collins said: "The rise in the use of antidepressants suggests that more people are going to their GP to discuss concerns for their mental health.
"Whilst this is an important step in a person's recovery, and a sign that as a society we are more open to the conversation on depression, there is still a long way to go in ensuring people are receiving adequate treatment.
"Depression is currently the leading cause of disability worldwide, therefore these figures aren't surprising. There are other treatment options in the treatment of depression including talking therapies which often complement antidepressant medication.
"However, we believe that they may not always be necessary in the first instance and I would urge people to discuss talking therapies with their GP or mental health professional as a form of treatment for depression and anxiety related conditions."