This report examines long-term trends in antidepressant prescribing and explores the impact of the financial crisis and subsequent recession on antidepressant prescribing by GPs. The study shows that between 1998 and 2012, the amount of antidepressants dispensed in the community each year rose by 25 million – from 15 million items in 1998, to 40 million in 2012. Almost half of that increase occurred in the four years between the 2008 financial crisis and 2012, the last year for which data are available.
The analyses suggest that there is a complex interaction of factors driving the ever-increasing prescribing of antidepressants – acting at individual level, practice level and across broader society. For GP practices and commissioners, the models developed may help them to better understand practice within their own area and prompt further analysis of local drivers. Most importantly, these models can help to provide a focus on the most likely areas where need and supply are not being matched, to improve patient care and reduce waste.