40% increase in four years
The number of anti-depressants prescribed by doctors rose by 9.3% last year, according to official statistics.
The data, from the NHS Information Centre, represents another increase for a group of drugs that has seen a 40% rise in prescriptions in the last four years. The increase may reflect the difficulty in accessing talking therapies quickly in some areas.
In the past decade the overall number of prescriptions issued in England has risen by almost 70%. During this period the average number of prescriptions prescribed per person has risen from 11.2 to 17.8. Much of this increase can be attributed to the ageing population. Other causes include improvements in diagnosis leading to earlier treatment of conditions, the development of new medicines and the increased prevalence of long-term conditions such as diabetes.
The NHS spends more on diabetes drugs than drugs for any other condition (£713.2m), with costs rising by 12.3% since 2009.
Prescriptions in England are free for children, the elderly and those on low incomes. In 2010 just 5.6% of prescriptions were paid for, compared to 10% in 2001. Private medical insurance (PMI) does not typically cover prescription charges.