Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The use of anti-depressants in the UK increases 275 percent

Mental illness is a terrible affliction; and I publish this chart with enormous trepidation.

Nevertheless, I find the massive increase in anti-depressant prescriptions alarming. Since 1991, it has increased by 275 percent. In 2007, doctors wrote 33 million prescriptions. That is around than one tube of pills for every two residents.

Why has the use of anti-depressants increased? Is that we are so much more unhappy now than 20 years ago? Or is it we were miserable then but Doctors couldn't or wouldn't help?


electro-kevin said...

For those who are depressed. You won't find your answer in the shopping mall.

There is one word which encapsulates the feeling of happiness:


Meditate on this one word and contemplate what it means, where you might find it and what it feels like.

Gratitude is bliss.

Anonymous said...

They gave us tranqs then, and before that (the golden years) we had amphetamine...(mum's perfect little helper. Oh for the 60s

Sackerson said...

It seems to have been a fairly steady rise, so not event-related?

Mitch said...

Government policy to chemically cosh the population or so it says in my tin foil hat.

Anonymous said...

Probably a lot more people have side effects from drug use now. Sad but true.
Or even the chart doesn't track an increasing need, rather an increasing awareness of availability (it won't rise for ever, it will level off, a series in progress).

Anonymous said...

Looks like a steady increase with a slowdown when Bliar announced he was going, followed by a sudden leap after Baldrick becomes PM and reality sets in.

Could be any number of causes. We have a bigger population - many migrants. Perhaps its true, you have to be nuts to want to live in the UK.

sobers said...

The ultimate expression of the 'want it now' philosophy. A bit down? Life not going according to plan? Pop a few pills and hey presto, you're as happy as Larry (assuming Larry is happy in the first place).

RayD said...

I assume we're talking SSRIs here? They are not truly anti-depressants, they are a very nasty addictive psycho-active drug that has the side effect of relieving depression in some patients. Once you start taking them, you can't stop, so naturally the numbers only go up.

Stagflationary Mark said...

I see what looks like a big jump higher from 2006 to 2007 in your chart. I'm curious. What's the percent change?

I ask because it seems you started your blog in 2007 (the same year I started Illusion of Prosperity). I doubt either of us did it because we were all that optimistic about the future. Hindsight is backing us pretty good right now too.

I'm 44. 2007 was also the year I started drinking alcohol. No joke! It's not a problem, just one drink a week at best but I never thought I had it in me. I generally don't like feeling out of control but our governments have somewhat desensitized me I guess. Go figure.

I also looked back to see what you said when you started this blog.

"Given that UK residents pay around 40 percent in personal taxes, most people are paying almost a half of their personal incomes on mortgage costs. In such circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising that people have resorted to personal unsecured debt to finance consumption expenditure. Nor is it surprising that an increasing number of debt soaked homeowners have resorted to personal bankruptcy."

Perhaps it therefore isn't surprising that people have also resorted to anti-depressants. Sigh.

Great blog! I read it often but I think this might be my first comment.

Alice Cook said...


That is the terrible thing about blogs. All your previous posts are there, waiting for someone to remind you what you said earlier.

The funny thing about my previous posts are that they seem so tame. I wished I had been more pessimistic. But at the time, I was definitely saying things that seemed far too negative.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words.


AntiCitizenOne said...


Don't talk crap.

1. They are not addictive.
2. They do prevent depression.

"A bit down?" is not depression.

RayD said...


Have you ever taken Prozac? Are close to anyone who has? My answer is yes on both counts.

Not addictive? Well, that's what it's peddlers tell you. But strangely, they also tell you not to stop taking it without medical supervision. Smackheads and crackheads, on the other hand, can stop taking their addictive drugs by taking to their beds for a couple of days, so what gives? It all comes down to what you mean by addictive. Stop taking it and you get sick, addictive. Stop taking and go crazy, not addictive, oh no, not at all.

They do not prevent depression. What they do is turn the patient into a zombie. The alleviation of the symptoms of depression is a side effect. That is my first hand experience.

I haven't checked recently, but there used to be several anti-Prozac sites. They are not all tin-foil hat nutters.

Anyway, this is off topic. My point was that usage rates are bound to go up because once you start taking it, there's never any reason to stop, plus it's a substantial hassle.

boiling frog said...

I wonder if some of the increase in presciptions is because they limit to 28days worth instead of 6mths worth like in the bad old days of valium for all.