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Tue Sep 02 23:21:30 SAST 2014

Use of antidepressants in Europe soars: study

AFP Relaxnews | 08 July, 2013 12:50
Researchers find an increasing uptake of antidepressants across Europe in recent decades.
Image by: ©Nomad_Soul/shutterstock.com

New data reveals that the use of antidepressant drugs such as Prozac has soared by 20 percent each year across Europe between 1995 and 2009.

Sweden, Norway, and Slovakia have seen the largest increase in usage of the drug, with a 1 000 percent growth in Sweden between 1980 and 2009. Icelanders are the heaviest users of antidepressants, with nearly nine percent of the population taking a daily dose. The lowest growths have been recorded in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Bulgaria, France, and Luxembourg.

The UK has recorded a five-fold increase in the use of antidepressants since 1991 and a 14% fall in suicide rates over the same period.

Researchers from London School of Economics and Political Science collected data from 29 European countries over 30 years, finding "strong evidence" that the drugs are key to helping treat depression, they said.

"These findings underline the importance of the appropriate use of antidepressants as part of routine care for people diagnosed with depression, therefore reducing the risk of suicide," said researcher David McDaid.

"The stigma surrounding antidepressants has decreased in line with improved awareness of mental health problems over the past 30 years, more counseling services and safer medication options."

"Increased funding for mental health systems has also helped make anti-depressants more affordable and accessible," he added. "A decline in suicide rates cannot be linked directly to antidepressants but the evidence in support of them -- when used appropriately -- is pretty compelling."

The study, announced last week, appears online in the journal PLOS One.

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