The new Prescription Nation series, looks into prescription drug use in Ireland, by Con Corrigan with RTÉ Investigates.
RTÉ Investigates has found that there has been a significant increase in prescribing rates for antidepressants for people on the public drug schemes. Con Corrigan, of RTÉ Investigates, spoke on Morning Ireland to share his research.
The three main public drug schemes: The general medical services, the long-term illness scheme and the drugs payment scheme, cover around 70% of the population. The number of antidepressant dosages prescribed per 1000 people per year from 2012 – 2017 showed the increase of the rate of antidepressants being prescribed nationally. This went up by 28%. The rate of patients prescribed antidepressants went up by 18%.
Dr Harry Barry, a GP and mental health expert, does not think we are in the midst of a depression epidemic but instead believes that the jump in prescribing might be an indication of greater levels of anxiety.
‘The incidence of anxiety in general over the last 20-30 years is pretty consistent with true genuine clinical depression. Anxiety is something we are increasingly seeing. We live in a world of comparison where social media has taken over our lives. All of this is creating enormous amount of stress pressure anxiety’
The rise in antidepressant prescribing could very well be a sign of a greater awareness of depression today and those who need help are seeking it through their doctor.
Dr John Hillery, President of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, said he is ‘not surprised in the rise of antidepressant prescribing because people are much more aware of their mental health and doctors are much aware of the needs of people with mental health problems.’
Dr Tom O’Dowd suggested that socio-economic factors could be a reason for the pattern of urban areas which reportedly have a higher rate of prescribed antidepressants.