Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.48 13 Nov 2019


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An Irish GP working in the NHS has said that there's a need to examine the approach to prescribing antidepressants in Ireland.

While medication is vital for some people, Dr Bryan McElroy argues that many doctors also understand the limitations of antidepressants and recognise the need for a "large range of responses to people in distress".

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, he observed: "Antidepressants have been on the increase in Ireland for the last 30 years or so.

"They're going up worldwide, but essentially I question whether we are prescribing inappropriately in some cases for sure."

He added: "In my view, it would be more helpful to view depression as a distressing, psychological and emotional human experience - rather than a disease.

"I think that would change how GPs view people who present to them, and it would also change public perception."

Data has indicated that the prescriptions for antidepressants have increased in both Ireland and the world in recent years.

Figures published by The Journal last year indicated that prescriptions for eight antidepressants available from the HSE increased by 64% between 2009 and 2017.

Data from NHS Digital in the UK, meanwhile, shows that the number of prescriptions for antidepressants in England has almost doubled in the past decade - 70.9 million prescriptions in 2018, compared to 36 million in 2008.

Dr Bryan McElroy has contributed to a new book - Inside Out Outside In: Transforming Mental Health Practice.

He argues that it’s important to ensure GPs are prescribing the drugs ‘safely and effectively’, while patients need to be informed about the pros and cons of starting antidepressant therapy.

Main image: Prescribed Pills (Image: © Ron Nickel/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire)

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