Byline: SARAH JUDD
TEESSIDERS' use of antidepressants shot up by almost a third in four years. The number of prescriptions issued for the drugs - used for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety - stood at 492,833 for 2007/08.
But it had rocketed by 30% to 639,768 in 2010/11.
Latest figures for the four Tees primary care trusts - Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Hartlepool - also show Middlesbrough has seen the highest increase at 33%.
Stockton - which recorded the highest number of prescriptions for the medication in the most recent year - has seen a 28.5% increase on the earlier figure.
Redcar and Cleveland logged a 30% increase.
In Hartlepool, the antidepressant prescription rate has increased by 27% over the period, according to the figures issued by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
It also reported that, across England, just under 46.7m prescriptions for antidepressants were dispensed in England in 2011 - a 3.9m (9.1%) increase on the 2010 equivalent.
This was the largest rise in prescription items from 200 sections listed.
Mental health nurse Lol Butterfield, who has been open about his own previous battles with depression, said the increase in antidepressant use across Teesside "did not surprise him at all".
He works with the national Time To Change programme, which aims to end stigma and discrimination around mental ill health.
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