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Record 6million people in England use antidepressants during lockdown

More than 6million people in England use antidepressants as record number turn to pills during Covid lockdown, new figures show

A record-breaking six million people in England have been prescribed antidepressants as lockdown life continues to impact everyday life in the country.

The high number is believed to have been partly caused by counselling moving online meaning some will have missed out on early help with their mental health.

Others are thought to have stayed away from therapy in an attempt to avoid meeting in person or putting more strain on the overworked NHS.

As a result more than six million people, more than ever before, were prescribed antidepressant meds in the three months leading to last September, according to the Guardian.

More than six million people were prescribed antidepressant medication in the three months leading to last September (file picture)

Dr Esther Cohen-Tovée, chair of the British Psychological Society’s division of clinical psychology, said psychological help can save lives.

She said: ‘I’m shocked and extremely concerned about the massive extent of the reduction in referrals for psychological help during a time of huge anxiety, stress and distress for the whole population.

‘This is even more concerning when there has been a huge increase in the prescription of antidepressants.’ 

‘The longer people wait, the more severe and complex their difficulties and their lives can become.’

Latest data shows there were 601,530 referrals to the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme from February to August 2020, 235,000 fewer than in 2019.

An NHS study held last July found the number of children with mental health issues is 50 per cent higher than before the pandemic

The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England survey was based on interviews with 3,570 children and their parents and found a large increase compared to 2017, when the last survey was held.

Three years ago, one in nine children was classified as probably having a mental disorder. But that figure is now one in six.

Lead author Tamsin Ford, who is a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Cambridge, said the ‘significant deterioration in children’s mental health’ was likely to be linked to lockdown.

She added: ‘We do know that loneliness is very toxic, and social isolation is very toxic for mental health.

‘The amount of change that children and parents reported in the survey and our own experiences of the pandemic would suggest very strongly that changes must relate to that.’

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