According to new figures more anti-depressant drugs are being prescribed to patients in the South Wales valleys than anywhere else in England and Wales.
Figures revealed by the BBC this week showed that seven of the “top 10” areas for prescriptions of the drugs are in Wales, the highest being Torfaen which in January had 104 prescriptions per 1,000 patients.
NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines recommend that for mild and moderate depression psychological treatments specifically focused on depression such as problem-solving therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and counselling can be as effective as drug treatments and should be offered as treatment options.
NICE states that anti-depressants should not be used for the initial treatment of mild depression, because the risk-benefit ratio is poor.
On average there was a 3.15% increase in the prescribing of anti-depressants across Wales during 2008 and it’s been suggested that the current economic climate is largely to blame.
Commenting on these figures, Hafal Campaigns Manager John Abbott, who took part in a discussion on this issue on the Good Evening Wales news programme on April 7th, said: “It’s hard to know whether the current recession is the cause of these figures.
“However, the underlying issue is that this is a long-term problem which exposes the lack of availability of counselling and psychotherapy services in Wales. The priority should be to make such therapies available in the first instance to people with a serious mental illness.
“Unfortunately Wales does not have the proper infrastructure for long-term psychotherapy or CBT which would prevent the overuse of such drugs to people.
“Some GPs across Wales do offer a counselling service within their surgeries and practices but there needs to be a considerable investment here to improve these services.”
Below is the list of the top 10 areas for prescriptions of anti-depressants per 1,000 in January 2009. Source: Prescription Pricing Authority in England and the Prescribing Services Unit in Wales
1. Torfaen – 104
2. Rhondda Cynon Taf – 97
3. Blaenau Gwent – 97
4. Merthyr Tydfil – 97
5. Neath Port Talbot – 94
6. Bridgend – 94
7. Caerphilly – 93
8. Blackpool – 92
9. Redcar & Cleveland – 89
10. Salford – 89
To read the news story which first highlighted the information above please visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_west/7986615.stm