People taking antidepressants ‘for decades’

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People are only supposed to take an antidepressant for a few months—but some never stop and rely on the drugs for decades. Average use is now six months, but 25 per cent are taking them for 15 months, say researchers.


Extended use is the only explanation for the doubling of antidepressant prescriptions in the past 10 years when the actual number of new cases of depression being diagnosed has increased only slightly.

The average time people are taking an antidepressant such as Prozac is now six months, while 25 per cent are taking them for 15 months. But there’s a small minority that is using the drug as a prop and takes the drug for decades, says Glyn Lewis, professor of psychiatry at University College Hospital in London.

Around 30 million prescriptions for an antidepressant were written in 2005 by the UK’s National Health Service, but this had risen to 61 million in 2015, said Prof Lewis. The rate has increased by nearly seven per cent every year.

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