Rising rates of depression and anxiety in England have led to the dispensing of around 71 million prescriptions for antidepressants by the NHS in 2018.

This is double the amount of prescriptions, 36 million, given out in 2008, costing the NHS an extra £167 million.

Rates have also increased over the last year, at an extra 3.4 million prescriptions, since 2017.

In 2017, over 3 million people were diagnosed with depression, with experts attributing the rising rates of mental illness to social media, fragmentation in the wider community, and stressful political events, like Brexit.

However, experts also positively associate this rise in prescriptions with greater recognition and increased understanding of mental illness in the UK, as well as a greater push to seek help.

Along with antidepressants, the rate of prescriptions for the treatment of diabetes rose 69 percent in the last decade, costing the NHS over £1 billion.

Because of the increase in weight gain, and as a result, diabetes, with over 4 million people living with the disease in the UK, there has also been an increase in GPs prescribing drugs to combat obesity and unhealthy eating, also tied into possible side effects of depression and anxiety.

To combat these rising rates of mental illnesses, and weight increases leading to diabetes, throughout the country, the NHS is seeking alternative measures, like link workers, who take a holistic, social approach to treatment.

The NHS has shifted its focus to conducting research and promoting alternative treatments, trying to cut down on dependency on medication, especially for mild cases of depression.

This data only takes NHS prescriptions into account, not antidepressants given out by private doctors or in hospitals.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

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