Antidepressant use climbs in Sweden

Prescriptions of antidepressants continue to rise in Sweden, according to new statistics from the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

The number of patients on anti-depressants increased by more than two percent from 2009 to 2010, with the number of the daily doses up by four percent.

The board has meanwhile developed new guidelines to encourage therapy in order to the tackle the condition, although they have not yet had an impact on healthcare statistics.

The statistics show that more than 500,000 women and 257,000 men were given antidepressant medication in 2010. In 2009, the equivalent figures were 490,000 and 250,000. Representing an increase of two percent across the board.

The number of daily doses of prescription medication increased for women by 3.7 percent, from 159-165 million, and for men by 4.3 percent, from 84-88 million.

The welfare board is not surprised at the increase.

The board aims to cut the prescription of antidepressants in the longer term, but there is little prospect of this in the short term as it will take time for the new guidelines to take effect.

“Already when we made the proposal, most experts agreed that this would take time. The challenge is to develop competence across the country and this takes a long time, several years,” said Lena Weilandt at the welfare board.

“That an effect would be registered now was not to be expected,” she said.

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