Last Tuesday I read an article which reported a 460% increase in prescriptions for antidepressants such as Prozac in the UK since 1991. 50 million were prescribed in England alone last year.
I know many are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression as a result of the economic factors which have been impacting on people's lives over the last few years.
But are antidepressants the answer? And are they really being handed out to the right people after a proper diagnosis?
Why might I think this? Well, three people I know have had their doctors suggest they're suffering from clinical depression when it seems likely they're not.
The first was a 16-year-old girl who'd just started her menstrual cycle. She was quite tearful and didn't know why, so went to the doctor. Obviously her hormones were playing havoc with her emotions and I'm sure they would have settled down over time, but she was told she was depressed and prescribed antidepressants on an ongoing basis which she's now taking.
The second was my friend's mother who has diabetes. Because of her condition, the National Health Service has been providing her with free foot care for many years. This has now been cut back. Not surprisingly she's quite upset about this, so was letting her feelings be known to the doctor. He suggested that she was depressed and needed antidepressants. But she wasn't depressed. She was just having a moan.
Lastly, my husband went for a blood test for a suspected liver complaint. You guessed it: "I think you may be depressed, I'll prescribe some antidepressants."
No. He was just anxious waiting for his results.
If I didn't know better, I might be tempted to believe that doctors are being evaluated on the number of antidepressant prescriptions they hand out. Maybe to boost the UK government's 'happiness index'?
What do you think?