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Initiation and duration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor prescribing over time: UK cohort study

  • Rachel L. McCrea (a1), Cormac J. Sammon (a1), Irwin Nazareth (a1) and Irene Petersen (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Background

Recent media reports have focused on the large increase in antidepressants dispensed in England. We investigated this, focusing on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Aims

To examine the rate of initiation of SSRIs over time and changes over time in the duration of prescribing episodes.

Method

We estimated initiation and duration of SSRI prescribing from 7 025 802 individuals aged over 18 years and registered with a general practice that contributed data to The Health Improvement Network.

Results

Rates of SSRI initiation increased from 1.03 per 100 person-years in 1995 to 2.15 in 2001, but remained stable from then to 2012. The median duration of prescribing episodes increased from 112 to 169 days for episodes starting in 1995 to 2010.

Conclusions

Despite media reports describing an increasing rate of antidepressant prescribing, SSRI initiation rates have stabilised since 2001. However, our results suggest that individuals who take SSRIs are receiving treatment for longer.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Irene Petersen, Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, London NW3 2PF, UK. Email: i.petersen@ucl.ac.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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1 Batty, D. Antidepressant use in England soars. Guardian 2011; 30 December (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/dec/30/antidepressant-use-england-soars).
2 Donnelly, L. ‘Staggering’ rise in prescribing of antidepressants. Telegraph 2014; 9 July (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10957417/Staggering-rise-in-prescribing-of-antidepressants.html).
3 Easton, M. Is England a nation on anti-depressants? BBC News 2013; 3 August (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23553897).
4 Health and Social Care Information Centre. Statins, Antidepressants, Diabetes Prescribing Items and NIC 1991 to 2013. HSCIC, 2013 (http://www.hscic.gov.uk/media/14818/statins-antidepressants-diabetes-prescribing-items-and-NIC-1991-to-2013/xls/Statins_AntiDep_Diabetes_1991_to_2013.xlsx).
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11 Martin, D. Pill-popping Britain: UK takes more anti-depressants than almost all our EU neighbours. Mail Online 2013; 21 November (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2511186/Pill-popping-Britain-UK-takesanti-depressants-Europe.html).
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Initiation and duration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor prescribing over time: UK cohort study

  • Rachel L. McCrea (a1), Cormac J. Sammon (a1), Irwin Nazareth (a1) and Irene Petersen (a1) (a2)
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