Shock at high anti-depressant prescription levels

Anti-depressant pills
Anti-depressant pills

Wigan mental illness patients are prescribed more anti-depressants than the national average.

In England as a whole the doling out of these drugs by medics has seen a dramatic rise in the last quarter century, soaring from below one million in the early 1990s to more than 10 million last year.

I don’t blame the GPs or the psychiatrists. What else have they got to offer people?

Peter Kinderman

Analytic database provider Exasol has released the most in-depth analysis ever carried out into anti-depressant prescribing across the country. For the first time, the prescribing across the country has been visualised in the form of heat map.

It captures every GP prescription dispensed at all pharmacies across England in the past six years.

On average 1.19 scripts per head of population are handed out nationwide, but in Wigan the figure is 1.35. The highest rate in the country - and the North West for that matter - is Blackpool with a rate of 2.1. The regional average is 1.4.

Sean Jackson, chief marketing officer of Exasol said: “When analysing the data, we can see that the prescribing of anti-depressants has increased by a large amount in recent years.

“However, this is only one part of the story: when we delve deeper, we find that the data can uncover further information such as geographic differences across the country.

“With the right data and the right technology, you can turn any problem into a data problem.

“People suffering from mental health problems need support and respect, these insights can direct help to the right places and it highlights where more resources are necessary.

“By uncovering insights using big data, it shows the factual reality of the problem. However, to be able to analyse such enormous data-sets requires the right tool for the job.

“We hope the findings will help to raise awareness of this important issue.”

Psychologists say the findings were consistent with links between deprivation and depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

Peter Kinderman, president of the British Psychological Society, said: “You’ve got lack of opportunity, lack of a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

“You’ve got the financial consequences on families, consequent pressure on relationships; a toxic mix of how social and economic factors can put pressure on our mental health and psychological wellbeing.

“Incidentally, I don’t blame the GPs or the psychiatrists.

“What the hell else have they got to offer people?”