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.