A new study finds that the number of antidepressant prescriptions in England doubled over the last decade.
In particular, the number of antidepressant drugs prescribed in England between 2005 and 2015 surged from a mere 29.4 million to 61 million. These drugs were prescribed and distributed outside hospitals.
The said drugs are used in the treatment of clinical depression as well as panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
"In 2015, there were 61.0 million antidepressant items prescribed - 31.6 million (107.6 percent) more than in 2005 and 3.9 million (6.8 percent) more than in 2014," said the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in a press release.
According to the HSCIC report, the "net ingredient cost" (NIC) of the antidepressants also surged in the past year from £19.7 million (about $25 million) to £284.7 million (about $368 million). Findings suggested that the National Health Service (NHS) was paying for antidepressants at a daily rate of £780,000 (about $1 million) in 2015.
"These latest figures show no sign of this trend slowing and we need to understand why we are seeing persistent year-on-year increases," said Vicki Nash from mental health charity Mind.
Nash added that the surge could be showing that more people are coming forward and seeking medical help for their condition. It could also mean that the physicians' abilities to spot signs mental health problems have improved. However, Nash said that these are "unlikely" to be the only explanations for the spike in figures.
Nash added that it is important to understand the exact number of people taking these anti-depression medicines as well as the treatment duration and if they are undergoing any other therapies. Nash, who is the charity's head of policy and campaigns, stressed that despite the wide availability of counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy, not everyone who needs these treatments are getting them.
Gillian Connor from Rethink Mental Illness, another mental health charity, echoed the same sentiments as Nash's, stressing that the spike could be an indication of improved awareness on the mental issues as well as increased willingness to get help.
Connor, the charity's head of policy, added that one in every 10 people will undergo depression at some point. The goal is to offer these people the full range of available treatments to help them handle depression and this includes "talking therapies."
The report titled Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2005-2015 is available online via the HSCIC website.