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Anti-depressant prescriptions soar in NZ

Published: 1:18PM Monday June 08, 2009 Source: AAP/ONE News

New Zealanders are taking a record number of anti-depressants.

The drug funding agency Pharmac says doctors wrote 1.2 million prescriptions last year and that figure has doubled in seven years. In 2002, 700,000 prescriptions were written.

Experts say up to 600,000 New Zealanders could now be on anti-depressants.

Auckland psychiatrist doctor David Codyre, who works with GPs, says drugs are a common way to treat depression.

"Until drugs, all doctors could do was listen," he says.

Codyre says one in 10 people in New Zealand are likely to experience significant depression or anxiety.

Some psychologists are blaming the recession for the rise.

Medical experts say redundancy, a lack of stress-relieving holidays or the struggle with mounting household bills was enough to push many people over the edge.

Psychologist Dr Simon Hatcher, told TV ONE's Breakfast, that he believed GPs are more willing to prescribe antidepressants nowadays.

He says the increase in people with depression could be for a number of reasons, higher awareness being them.

Hatcher also says there is "absolutely a link between the recession and mental heath."

He says one of the clearest links is between economic hardship and suicide rates.

"People who are unemployed are two or three times more likely to commit suicide," he says.

Do you think drugs are the best option for treating depression or are doctors over-prescribing? Is the recession having an impact on your metal health?  Share your thoughts on our message board below:

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  • alwyn said on 2009-06-08 @ 17:03 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I think using drugs to treat depression is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. The recession has had a major impact on my life having recently lost most of my assets and yes it is uncontrollably depressing, not the only one thou. You have to change your outlook on life and move on in order to beat it. Physical exercise helps along with support from friends & family. I refuse to use medication as I believe it is not the solution.

  • RickyBeee said on 2009-06-08 @ 14:01 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I am pretty fed up yo. Not bothered about recession but had a nasty reaction to some cheese on toast. Took me down and laid me low. Badness. I do need cheering up and reckon those pills would help.