North Top Spender on Depression Drugs; Mental Health Patient Numbers Rise Each Year

The Journal (Newcastle, England), December 3, 2007 | Go to article overview

North Top Spender on Depression Drugs; Mental Health Patient Numbers Rise Each Year


Byline: By Audrey Barton

THE North-East has the highest levels of depression in the country, shock new figures show.

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that five of the top six areas in the country for spending on anti-depressants are all in the North-East, including Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside.

Middlesbrough tops the list, while nearby Redcar and Cleveland are also included.

The information has come from the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA) which collates all the drugs prescription statistics from primary care trusts around the country.

North-East GPs say the number of patients presenting at surgeries with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression is rising each year.

But the increase is coming as adults with mental illness who are in need of treatment are also enduring lengthy waits - some up to almost three years - to access a psychologist at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust.

GP Jane Lothian, of the Northumberland Local Medical Committee, cited low access to therapies like counselling as a reason for the high demand for prescription drugs. She said: "It would be ideal if people didn't have to prescribe these drugs and people could have talking therapies instead. …

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