The number of anti-depressant prescriptions is going through the roof these days in the UK.
With most of the population seeing being issued ‘happy pills’ by their GP as a perfectly acceptable form of treatment for what seems like a wide range of different maladies, is this not a trend that we should be worried about?
Current data shows that more than 70 million people were prescribed anti-depressants during 2018, and this number has doubled over the past ten years.
When you look at the figures, prescription rates show that anti-depressants were issued at a higher level in parts of the UK that were exposed to a greater level of social deprivation. What this highlights is that mental health issues such as anxiety and depression have moved far beyond being a personal issue.
There is a growing social pressure too that show up when you look more closely at the geographical variations of anti-depressant prescription rates.
The situation is becoming so bad that both GP’s and journalists have coined a new phrase for this phenomenon – ‘rotten life syndrome’.
The effectiveness of anti-depressants
What the treatment evidence shows is that anti-depressants are most effective for treating adults over an eight-week trial, however, they are not proven to be effective for children or adolescents.
For long-term users taking anti-depressant over 30+ years, results are showing that they are worse off compared to other comparison groups.
What needs to be factored in is that anti-depressants come with a range of sometimes unpleasant side effects that can cause other health-related issues for patients, plus their withdrawal from the medication needs to be carefully managed by professionals.
Many medical experts are now concerned that anti-depressants may do more harm than good over the long term because they prevent your body’s normal stress-coping processes from responding properly as they should do to normal stress situations.
The main problem with anti-depressants is that they are prescribed for a wide variety of other psychiatric and non-psychiatric conditions. This is why GP’s need to issue more information and give a better explanation of why their patient is being prescribed with anti-depressants.
When you do a bit of research about these drugs, even the online guides given by the NHS direct state that they don’t know exactly how they work.
Dr Nick Walsh, lecturer in psychology at the University of East Anglia, says the current theory is that antidepressants work indirectly to take the brain back to a more juvenile state.
We do know that these medications affect a person’s neurotransmitter levels – particularly a neurotransmitter called serotonin. This is probably why anti-depressants have been labelled as ‘happy pills’, but we know that there is no scientific evidence to show they correct a chemical imbalance in our system.
The best theory so far is that they act to make the brain more plastic. This may enable people to re-learn and change how they see the world and how it affects them.
While the jury is still out about anti-depressants and their effectiveness, we at SWARME are happy to keep supporting you or those in your care that are taking prescribed anti-depressants.
We understand just how important maintaining a positive level of care and independence is to you or your loved one, but also the social aspect of our work with you too! This is why at SWARME we go out of our way to match you with a carer or carers that not only meet your needs but will find you someone that you genuinely like and get along well with.
Find your perfect carer with SWARME or contact our friendly team on +44 782 577 4700 for our direct help today!