Health & wellbeing, Press Releases
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Women's use of antidepressants at crisis point
Thousands use antidepressants for long periods
New research by Platform 51 reveals the truth behind the use of antidepressant by girls and women in England and Wales.
The research, conducted by Opinium LLP*, shows that a huge number of women use antidepressants for long periods without being reviewed or offered any alternatives to drugs. It shows:
- a third of women have taken antidepressants at some point in their lives
- nearly half (48%) of women currently on antidepressants have been on them for five years or more
- one in four (24%) women currently on antidepressants have been on them for 10 years or more
- one in four (24%) women currently on antidepressants have waited a year or more for a review.
National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines advise that antidepressants should not be used routinely as the only option offered to people for depression. For moderate or severe depression a combination of medication and high-intensity psychological intervention is recommended. Therefore the number of women who have taken antidepressants and the number who were not offered alternative or additional support poses worrying questions about the appropriateness of prescriptions. The lack of choices means:
The lack of choice means 57% of women who have taken antidepressants weren't offered any alternatives to drugs at time of prescription.
Not only that, many women are hiding the problem. Nearly one in five (18%) women kept it a secret from their family and 10% even kept it a secret from their partner.
Platform 51's director of policy, campaigns and communications Rebecca Gill, said:
"These shocking figures reveal an escalating crisis in women's use of antidepressants. We know from working with women and girls in our centres that antidepressants have a role to play in treating mental health issues. The problem is that they are too readily prescribed as the first and only remedy, with 57% of women not being offered any alternatives to drugs at time of prescription and 1 in 4 currently on antidepressants having waited a year or more for review.
"Worryingly, our research suggests that there is still a huge stigma attached to mental health problems. With 1 in 5 not telling their families and 1 in 10 keeping it a secret from their partner, it is clear that women fear they will be judged on the state of their mental health.
"Women want more checks to make sure the medication they use is right for them and they want more choices when it comes to what type of treatment they receive. That is why we are calling on the Government to launch an urgent review into the use of antidepressants."
*To get a representative picture of the mental health experiences of girls and women, Platform 51 commissioned Opinium Research LLP to carry out a nationally representative, quota-controlled survey of more than 2,000 adults aged 18+ in England and Wales in June 2011.
Search Platform 51 news
Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive regular updates about our work.
For more about what we think, download information, reports and policy here