A group of experts and MPs have called for the government to commit to a reversal in the rising rate of prescribing of antidepressants.
Some of the co-authors of the article include the secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence Dr. James Davies, Professor of Critical and Social Psychiatry Joanna Moncrieff and Conservative MP Danny Kruger.
The article said that over the past decade, antidepressant prescriptions have almost doubled in England, rising from 47.3 million in 2011 to 85.6 million in 2022/2023.
Expanded the Definition of Mental DisorderDr. James Davies told The Epoch Times that we “really need to be rethinking our over-reliance on these medications.”
Dr. Davies, who is an associate professor of medical anthropology and psychology at the University of Roehampton, added that since the 1990s, warned that we “have medicalised more and more human experiences.”
“The over-medicalisation of our everyday lives has really helped fuel over-prescribing,” he said.
“The trouble here, however, is that most people who are presenting at primary care for emotional difficulties aren’t suffering from internal biological disorders in any verifiable sense, they’re suffering from natural and normal, albeit painful, human reactions to the difficult life, They’re living, to the difficult circumstances in which they have become caught up, circumstances that these pills were never designed to treat,” he added.
“So we need to start doing things differently. We need to start to pull back on the over medicalisation and over prescribing and begin to institute more social and psychological alternatives,” he said.
The article noted that rates of prescribing to patients with mild and moderate depression remain high. For example, one UK study showed that 58 percent of people taking antidepressants for more than two years failed to meet the criteria for any psychiatric diagnosis.
It added that the average duration of time for which a person takes an antidepressant has doubled between the mid-2000s and 2017, with around half of patients now classed as long-term users.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have similar rates of antidepressant prescribing.
It noted that rising long-term use is associated with many adverse effects, with withdrawal effects experienced by around half of the patients, with up to half of those describing their symptoms as “severe.”
A substantial proportion of these are experiencing withdrawal for many weeks, months, or even years.
DownplayedDr. Davies said the adverse effects have been downplayed for decades.
“We now have 1,000s of patients online, supporting each other through difficult adverse reactions, and most of these people are experiencing dependency and withdrawal issues and support each other online in the absence of the NHS providing dedicated support,” he said.
He added that there are also groups for people who are suffering from sexual dysfunction or the consequences of taking these medications.
Campaigners who have been damaged by anti-depressants welcomed the move.
“It’s great that this group of experts have called to try and curtail this growth,” Simon Wright from PSSD Network, who has the condition, told The Epoch Times.
“Because one of the main issues is the fact that patients aren’t given informed consent about the fact that they can be permanently harmed by these drugs in the form of conditions like PSSD, which has wrecked many lives and has led to many suicides,” he said.
An NHS spokesperson told The Epoch Times by email that it could not comment as “this is one” for the government’s health department.
The Epoch Times contacted The Department of Health and Social Care for comment.