The number of antidepressant drugs prescribed in England is on the increase, according to the latest figures from the NHS Business Services Authority.
Data covering April to June this year revealed 20.5 million antidepressants were prescribed, a two per cent rise on the 20.2 million items in the previous quarter and seven per cent more than in April to June last year.
In its report on medicines used in mental health, published on September 9, the NHSBSA said the prescribing of antidepressants has been increasing over the last five years, with 4.33 million more items prescribed in the first quarter of this year compared with 2016-17.
About 107 million antidepressant drugs were prescribed during the Covid pandemic between March 2020 and June this year. The NHSBSA said this was 1.24 million more than the 106 million items that would be expected based on historical trends.
There were 3.27 million antipsychotic items prescribed in the first quarter this year, a slight increase on the 3.25 million items during the same period last year, with prescriptions increasing by 15 per cent in last five years.
The report revealed 997,000 dementia drugs were prescribed in the first quarter of this year, a four per cent fall on the 1.04 million items prescribed during the same period last year.
The number of hypnotics and anxiolytics, used to treat insomnia and anxiety respectively, fell by 1.98 per cent from 3.56 million items in the first quarter last year to 3.49 million in the same period this year.
The report also revealed that prescribing of hypnotics and anxiolytics has been falling over the last five years, with 427,000 fewer items in quarter one this year compared with the same period in 2016-17.