NICE warns GPs over antidepressant use

GPs should not prescribe antidepressants routinely for long periods, or to treat mild depression, NICE has warned.

BMJ research reveals an increase in long-term antidepressant use across the UK
BMJ research reveals an increase in long-term antidepressant use across the UK

Updated guidance published this week says GPs should only consider the drugs for patients with moderate or severe depression, or those suffering sub-threshold depressive symptoms for at least two years.

The latest guidance comes as research in the BMJ reveals an increase in long-term antidepressant use across the UK.

The researchers assessed all cases of depression from 1993 to 2005 across 170 surgeries, covering 1.7 million patients.

They found that prescriptions per patient rose from 2.8 in 1993 to 5.6 in 2004, despite a drop in the number of patients diagnosed with depression.

The researchers said the rise may be due to more patients taking antidepressants on a long-term basis.

  • Read the full version of this story in this week's edition of GP dated 30 October

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