NHS Data: 41% Rise in Antidepressant Prescribing to Children Aged 5-12 Since 2015

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From The Pharmaceutical Journal: “NHS data obtained via a freedom of information request, provided on 10 August 2021, show a steady increase over the past six years in the number of unique patients in England aged 5–12 years who were prescribed antidepressants, which were dispensed in primary care settings.

Between April 2015 and April 2021, the number of unique patients aged 5–12 years prescribed antidepressants increased by 41%, from 1,299 to 1,831; of these patients, the majority were males (772 and 1,112, respectively).

In March 2020, the number of unique patients aged 5–12 years prescribed antidepressants reached a peak of 2,031 (792 females, 1,224 males, and 15 ‘unknown’) — a 15% increase compared to March 2019.

. . . ‘The difficulties with withdrawing from these drugs has only more recently been acknowledged,’ [said Kirsten Shukla, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust]. ‘There is a very high risk that children who start taking these drugs when very young will continue taking them for many years and into adulthood.

‘Unfortunately, children, young people and families are drawn into a culture where people believe that depression is caused by a “chemical imbalance” in the brain, which is not true,’ she added.

‘Many young people, and parents, demand to be prescribed antidepressants.’

. . . In June 2021, analysis by The Pharmaceutical Journal revealed that peaks in the number of young people prescribed antidepressants in England coincided with periods of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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