WEARSIDERS are near the top of the national league for taking anti-depressants.
A recent survey has revealed that Sunderland is sixth nationally in its consumption of the drugs.
Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust’s doctors wrote 1,268 prescriptions signed for every 1,000 patients – the equivalent of 1.2 per person.
Jacqui Reeves, from Washington Mind, said: “I think the current economic climate plays a part and I’m not surprised that people are struggling.
“Anti-depressants work much better with other things; being active, diet, sleeping better. Sometimes anti-depressants are what’s needed but there are other things that can help.”
Jacqui added that depression and links to economic problems like deprivation and unemployment are common.
She said: “When you look at local public health stats, areas of deprivation do have higher levels of depression and higher levels of physical health, so there is obviously a connection there.”
Also in the top 10 for anti-depressant prescriptions were Newcastle, County Durham and South Tyneside.
Dr Ian Pattison, chairman of NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said the large amount of prescriptions in Sunderland could be down to a number of factors.
He said: “The volume of prescriptions may be larger in Sunderland as a result of better diagnosis of patients, improved treatment in primary care and social factors such as higher levels of deprivation.
“Anti-depressants are not only used for patients with depression.
“They are also licensed for the treatment of a range of other conditions such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, treatment of phobias and in the management of neuropathic pain.”
He added that the drugs can be used to treat other related illnesses.
He said: “The treatment of depression can involve a number of remedies, including counselling and interpersonal therapy, and anti-depressants are not prescribed for every case. Doctors will decide whether to prescribe an antidepressant depending on the patients’ symptoms and severity of illness.
“GPs are advised to follow guidance from National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which recommends that mild depression is usually best treated by monitoring the patient and using psychological approaches known as talking therapies and structured group physical activity programmes.
“The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme provides improved access and more choice for the treatment for common mental health problems in primary care and community settings, including cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling.
“Since 2010, additional GP practice-based counselling services have been available in Sunderland as well as the IAPT programme to improve accessibility and choice for psychological therapies.”