Are We Too Reliant on Pill Popping in The UK?

Is the United Kingdom in the midst of a pill boom?  Do we look for the answer to a problem majoritively in the bottom of a pill bottle?  Are GP’s too keen to have their patients medicated with antidepressants to deal with cases of depression?

In 2011 the number of antidepressants issued was 50 million and this figure was compiled from the prescriptions that GP’s pharmacists and other health professionals issued in the community last year.  Antidepressants such as Prozac and Seroxat account for the biggest yearly increase in prescriptions between 2010 and 2011.  There was an increase in the amount of antidepressants by nearly 4 million for the same period of increase.

The information was released by a report entitled Prescription Dispensed in the Community was a summary of prescriptions for drugs and other treatments such as dressings and medical appliances.  The information was released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre who were previously known as the NHS Information Centre and its role was to collect and analyse any data and to assist the NHS in running more efficiently.

The report discovered that antidepressants saw the largest cost of any other area.  The cost of prescribing antidepressants in 2011 alone was £49.8 million; an increase of 22 per cent from 2010.  And it isn’t just antidepressant medication that is soaring; more people are being prescribed pills to assist them to sleep.  Around one in 10 British people suffer from a sleeping disorder and it was recently reported that the government have spent almost £3million of taxpayer’s money on insomnia research.

From my own personal experience my own mother who was suffering from pain in her arm, which thankfully turned out to be nothing, visited her GP and was prescribed a huge white bag; filled to the brim with strong painkillers.  My Dad, who also suffered from back pain, was the same.  What is perplexing to me is the vast quantities at which they hand them out – it is little wonder why some people become over reliant and not strong enough to be without some form of painkiller.

For mental problems especially, the argument for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is strong and many would recommend this before a plan of heavy medication in order to feel better again.  There is a very strong case that cutting back on the resources for pills would be better spent on therapies and to focus on patient care rather than pill popping methods although it seems in the long run the treatment that takes less effort will succeed.

Jenny Jones writes on behalf of Health-on-Line and has contributed to many other health blogs such as Follow Health.

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