More than 70,000 children prescribed anti-depressants in last 12 months1 min read

More than 70,000 under-18s, including nearly 2,000 children of primary school age, were prescribed anti-depressants in England last year, it has been reported. Experts have called for caution in giving the drugs to youngsters, warning that potential long-term effects on developing brains are not fully known. Mental health campaigners say access to other treatments, such as ‘talking therapies’, should be made more widely and easily available as a first resort.

GPs have said the prescription figures are evidence of youngsters seeking treatment, which is encouraging, but have backed calls for greater access to other therapies. NHS data obtained by The Times through freedom of information requests showed 7.3 million people were given at least one antidepressant prescription in England in 2017.

The drugs were used by one in six adults, the statistics suggested, with the total number marking an increase of nearly 500,000 since 2015.

The number of anti-depressant prescriptions has more than doubled in the last decade. A psychiatrist at Oxford University, Andrea Cipriani, said that doctors needed to be careful of prescribing anti-depressants to the developing brain. ‘We don’t know the long-term consequences,’ he said.


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