One in three women will take anti-depressants in their lifetime

One in three women has taken anti-depressants during their lifetime while nearly half of those currently prescribed the medication have done so for at least five years, with a quarter doing so for a decade, according to a survey.

The study by women's campaign group Platform 51, formerly the YWCA, claimed that the use of drugs such as Prozac and Cipramil had reached "crisis" proportions, and accused GPs of flouting National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) guidelines when it came to routinely represcribing the drugs.

The charity's research found that of 2,000 women polled, 57% of those who had taken anti-depressants were not offered any alternatives to drugs. It urged greater use of psychological therapies – so-called "talking cures" – such as cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling. It said one in four women questioned had waited a year or more for their treatment to be reviewed.

Platform 51's director of policy, Rebecca Gill called for a review into the current guidelines for anti-depressant use and prescription. She insisted the charity was not attacking GPs or the drugs themselves but that the findings reflected concern felt by women taking them.

"Women and girls in our centres have talked about feeling quite numb and not being in control of their lives when they are on antidepressants. They don't want to take them for a long time and would prefer GPs and health workers to discuss with them why they are down in the first place. The can feel that no one is interested in their back story," she said.

But doctors' leaders dismissed the poll as "alarmist". Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said the drugs were a vital treatment. "Antidepressants save lives. In the past GPs have been criticised for being cautious about prescribing them and not prescribing them for long enough or in a high enough dose," she said.

A quarter of people suffer from depression at some point. Women are more likely to present to their GP with the symptoms and in the majority of cases the condition can be controlled without recourse to medication, which did not provide a "magic wand" but allowed sufferers to cope, Dr Gerada added.

Those who required drug treatment normally did so for between 12 and 18 months and GPs were trained to offer antidepressants in association with other therapies, she said. However, Dr Gerada was concerned about the finding that 18 per cent of women kept their prescription a secret from their family and 10 per cent did not tell their partner.

Paul Jenkins, chief executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, called for greater access to psychological therapies but said that the increase in prescription drugs was down to a better understanding of mental illness.

"In some ways it is encouraging to see that unlike former generations, who would suffer in silence, people are more open about their mental health," he said.

Case study: 'Pills helped me sort my issues'

Kate Whitley, 45, from Oxford, took anti-depressants for around eight months after a visit to her doctor.

"The pills gave me the time I needed to sort out the issues I had. But I was keen to stop taking them because I was worried about developing a dependency. I never saw them as a long-term solution.

"I made an appointment with my doctor because, I was having trouble sleeping. Then at other times, I was sleeping too long. I felt uneasy and stressed often and I was making very strange decisions in my life; I could not think straight.

"The doctor said it sounded like I should take Prozac and sleeping pills and seek counselling. I stopped the sleeping pills and counselling but carried on with the Prozac, got myself back into a routine and worked through my issues and, happily, was able to stop using the anti-depressants."

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

    Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

    Newly Qualified Teachers

    £90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

    Year 3/4 Teacher

    £120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments