Recession caused depression spike – and NHS 'was not prepared'
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Wednesday 17 October 2012
Recession is being followed by depression, according to researchers who say the number of patients seeking treatment for the illness has leapt by up to half in the past three years.
Almost 500,000 people were registered with depression in 2010-11, bringing the total to 4.8 million, up 11 per cent since 2008-9 when the recession began.
The extent of the rise varies widely across the country. Yorkshire and Humber was the county with the biggest increase at more than 19 per cent. South West Essex Primary Care Trust recorded an increase of 52.5 per cent.
The findings suggest spending is not keeping up with the increased burden of the illness.
A spokesman for the data analyst Ssentif, which collected the figures from NHS sources, said: "Spending by primary care trusts on mental health has increased by 10 per cent in the last three years while the prevalence of mental illness has increased by 14 per cent. The real numbers are higher because many people do not seek help from their GP."
The number of prescriptions for anti-depressants has risen by a fifth over the period, after doubling since the mid-1990s. Almost one in ten of the population is suffers from depression at any one time.
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