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."

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

    £22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

    Design Technology Teacher

    £22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

    Foundation Teacher

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

    English Teacher- Manchester

    £19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

    Day In a Page

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes