Startling new figures on anti-depressants - UK England/Wales

Startling new figures on anti-depressants - UK England/Wales

Joined: April 1st, 2004, 4:56 pm

April 7th, 2009, 9:51 am #1


 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/

New figures I have obtained under freedom of information paint a troubling picture of the mental well-being of people in part of Wales and northern England.

It may be the recession, but I suspect the statistics showing very high levels of anti-depressant use in those regions have more complex origins.

The new numbers also show yet another increase in prescribing pills like Prozac, despite national guidance advocating alternative treatments - up 3.15% in Wales and 3.64% in England during 2008.

The previously unpublished data, given to me by the Prescription Pricing Authority in England and the Prescribing Services Unit in Wales, focus on January this year. If one looks at the number of prescriptions for anti-depressants issued in that month per thousand patients, a startling story emerges.

<span class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image"><img alt="anti_depress595x446.gif" src="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters ... 95x446.gif" width="595" height="446"></span>

The top seven are all Welsh Local Health Boards (LHBs) in a small area in the south of the country. Of the top thirty prescribers, 12 are in Wales and 10 are Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in the north-east of England.

We even see a local health authority prescribing at a rate greater than one prescription for 10 patients. In Torfaen, the area around Pontypool in south Wales, GPs handed out 104 prescriptions per 1,000 patients during January. This appears to be an astonishing level of anti-depressant use. GPs we have contacted blame a shortage of counselling for the high prescribing levels.

<span class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image"><img alt="prescriptions_top30.png" src="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters ... _top30.png" width="418" height="550"></span>

Both south Wales and the north-east of England are areas with high levels of people not in work, but deprivation cannot explain what one sees as the other end of the table. Of the 30 PCTs which have the lowest levels of anti-depressant prescribing, all but two are in Greater London. And these areas include some of the most deprived in England.

<span class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image"><img alt="prescriptions_bottom30.png" src="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters ... ttom30.png" width="414" height="552"></span>

The figures also show how January 2009 compares with January 2008, and I wondered whether this might reveal the effects of the recession. The map shows a less obvious regional picture.

<span class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image"><img alt="prescribing595x446.gif" src="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters ... 95x446.gif" width="595" height="446"></span>

The biggest year-on-year increases in prescribing are both in south Wales: Torfaen has seen a rise of over eight prescriptions per 1,000 patients in twelve months, consolidating its position at the top of the table.

<span class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image"><img alt="prescription_change.png" src="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters ... change.png" width="410" height="366"></span>

Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend and Neath/Port Talbot have also seen very large rises. Six of the top 20 places ranked by the increase in prescribing anti-depressants are in Wales. Have free prescriptions made a difference? If so, why do figures for the Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham show falls in anti-depressant use?

In England, Swindon and Sunderland, which have both recently seen big job losses and lay-offs as a result of the economic downturn, have seen anti-depressant prescriptions rise by more than five prescriptions per 1,000 patients.

Tameside and Glossop sees the largest increase in the past 12 months in England with at least one local doctor saying that the recession is having a serious effect on the area's mental health.

Dr Kailash Chand, a GP in the area told his local paper:
Job insecurity, redundancy, debt and financial problems are all proven to contribute to mental distress. For the last few months I've seen at least one or two more patients per week who are unable to cope with financial difficulties.
I have no doubt that the threat and impact of recession is having a psychological effect upon many people in the UK - but anti-depressant prescribing has been rising for years and, in fact, the rate of increase is falling. Comparing Jan 2007 with Jan 2008, the increase in England was 8.3%, and it was 9% in Wales.

Do let me know what conclusions you draw from the data
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Joined: April 19th, 2005, 7:01 pm

April 7th, 2009, 12:21 pm #2


I noticed that Bridgend (South Wales) is high on the list in your post.

"The Bridgend suicide incidents are a set of suicides involving young people in the South Wales county borough of Bridgend. Reports speculated that a "suicide cult" was to blame.<span>[</span>1<span>]</span> <strong>As of December 29, 2008, there have been twenty-four known deaths since January 2007</strong><span>[</span>2<span>]</span>, though police have found no evidence to link the cases together. The Member of Parliament for Bridgend, Madeleine Moon has also said that there is no connection between the deaths."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgend_suicide_incidents
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Joined: April 1st, 2004, 4:56 pm

April 7th, 2009, 12:40 pm #3

small world
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Joined: April 1st, 2004, 4:56 pm

April 7th, 2009, 12:45 pm #4

<table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"><tr><td colspan="2"> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_west/7986615.stmValleys top anti-depressant table </td></tr><tr><td><table border="0" width="226" align="right" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"><tr><td><img border="0" alt="Depressed man (generic)" src="http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/4 ... ressed.jpg" width="226" height="300"> There has been a 3.15% increase in the prescribing of drugs like Prozac</td></tr></table>
More anti-depressant drugs are being prescribed to patients in the south Wales valleys than anywhere else in England and Wales, new figures show.

Seven of the "top 10" areas for the drugs were in Wales, and the highest was Torfaen, with 104 prescriptions per 1,000 patients in January.

National guidance says patients should first be offered self-help and therapy.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it had invested significantly in mental health services in recent years.

The figures were obtained by the BBC's home affairs correspondent Mark Easton in a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).

They showed that the rate of prescribing anti-depressants was just under one in 10 of patients in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.

Bridgend, Caerphilly and, in north Wales, Denbighshire also have high rates of anti-depressant prescriptions handed out.

The figures also showed the highest year-on-year increases in prescribing could be found in Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent.
<table border="0" width="231" align="right" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"><tr><td width="5"><img border="0" alt="" src="http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/shared/img/o.gif" width="5" height="1"></td><td>ANTI-DEPRESSANT TOP 10 Torfaen - 104Rhondda Cynon Taf - 97Blaenau Gwent - 97Merthyr Tydfil - 97Neath Port Talbot - 94Bridgend - 94Caerphilly - 93Blackpool - 92Redcar & Cleveland - 89Salford - 89Prescriptions of anti-depressants per 1,000 in January 2009. Source: Prescription Pricing Authority in England and the Prescribing Services Unit in Wales </td></tr></table>
On average across Wales there has been a 3.15% increase in the prescribing of drugs like Prozac during 2008 despite national guidance advocating alternative treatments.

The national guidelines for England and Wales on the prescribing of anti-depressants recommends they should not be used as first line therapy for mild to moderate depression.

The guidelines state that in the first instance patients should be offered self help and psychological therapies

But doctors in Wales said there was a lack of support services available for sufferers and they were often left with no option other than to prescribe drugs like Prozac.

Dr David Bailey, of the British Medical Association (BMA) Cymru, said patients often had to wait five or six months for therapy because of a lack of funds and skilled practitioners.
<table border="0" width="231" align="right" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"><tr><td width="5"><img border="0" alt="" src="http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/shared/img/o.gif" width="5" height="1"></td><td><img border="0" alt="" src="http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img ... ote_rb.gif" width="24" height="13"> There is a skills shortage as well as a money issue <img border="0" alt="" src="http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img ... ote_rb.gif" width="23" height="13">
Dr David Bailey, BMA Cymru</td></tr></table>
"In England some extra money has been promised by the Department of Health to pay for more counselling and specialist therapy that is due to roll out in Wales too," he said.

"I know the assembly is trying find money to improve the access to cognitive behavioural therapy (a specialised form of counselling) and counselling.

"But there is a skills shortage as well as a money issue. There just aren't enough skilled practitioners able to provide these therapies in Wales."

Dr Bailey said the higher prescription rates could reflect increasing rates of mild depression because of the current economic climate.

"It could be that the current economic climate is making mild depression more common because people are worried about their jobs and how they are going to make ends meet," he said.

Healthy lifestyle

Chief medical officer for Wales Tony Jewell said GPs were encouraged to consider alternatives to medication including referral to a counsellor.

The assembly government was also trying to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle, had funded a free bilingual 24/7 advice and information line, and was rolling out a mental health first aid programme, he said.

The assembly government said it had increased the number of mental health and occupational health professionals and those in training.

"An extra £100,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government is also being made available every year to improve support for GPs providing care for people experiencing mental health problems," said a spokesperson.

"In 2005, we launched Book Prescription Wales which allows highly recommended self-help books to be prescribed by GPs... and other health providers."
</td></tr></table>
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Joined: April 19th, 2005, 7:01 pm

April 8th, 2009, 7:39 pm #5


http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales ... -23337171/

Home News
Wales News South Wales Valleys top table for anti-depressant prescriptions
Apr 8 2009 by Emily Woodrow, Western Mail

ANTI-DEPRESSANT drugs are being prescribed more often in the South Wales Valleys than anywhere else in England and Wales.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that seven of the top 10 areas for the drugs being prescribed in the UK were in Wales the highest of which was Torfaen with 104 prescriptions per 1,000 patients in January.

The figures revealed that the rate of prescribing anti-depressants was just under one in 10 of patients in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.

Bridgend and Caerphilly also have high rates of anti-depressant prescriptions being handed out, and the highest year-on-year increases in prescribing could be found in Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent.

On average, across Wales last year there was a 3.15% increase in the prescribing of drugs like Prozac, despite national guidance recommending that anti-depressants like this should not be used as first line therapy for mild to moderate depression.

Ewan Hilton, executive director of mental health charity Gofal Cymru, said he was concerned the figures reflected the difficulty people have accessing alternative treatments.

He said: The Assemblys Health and Social Services committee is currently conducting an enquiry into community mental health services and the evidence that they have heard from ourselves and from other witnesses is that access to talking treatments is patchy at best.

We know that it is far from uncommon for people to have to wait over a year to access the counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy services that they need and so we hope that the Welsh Assembly Government will look again at how to make such alternatives to medication more widely available to people across Wales.
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