Prof John Read and others on the news that antidepressant prescribing has passed 70 million in England, and George Herbert on the benefits of cognitive behavioural therapy

So, antidepressant prescribing passed 70 million in England last year (Report, 29 March). We also know that 16% of adults receive one or more prescriptions annually – one in six of us. It’s even higher for women and in deprived areas. The president of the Royal College of GPs says doctors “only prescribe medication to a patient after a full and frank discussion with them, considering their unique circumstances”. In 10-15 minutes? Really? What is the evidence for her claim? She adds that “it’s really important that increasing numbers of antidepressant prescriptions are not automatically seen as a bad thing”. Antidepressant drugs are only marginally better than placebo and come with many risks, including emotional numbing, sexual dysfunction and protracted withdrawal effects. What level of prescribing will persuade the representatives of GPs and psychiatrists that this epidemic of overprescribing is inappropriate? One in four? One in three? Seven out of 10?

The main reason prescriptions are going up is not...

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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19 April 2019