Health

15% of Scots with long-term mental illness go untreated to avoid prescription drugs

  • 15% of Scots are actively leaving depression untreated to avoid prescription medication  
  • 1 in five Scots have experienced undiagnosed depression
  • More than a quarter of Scots want alternative treatments for depression
  • One in five Scots have taken prescription depression medication and the side effects have dissuaded them from using them again
  • 3 million Brits have been forced out of work due to antidepressants 
  • A record number of antidepressants were prescribed last year in the UK, with the current figure standing at 71 million

It has been reported that antidepressant prescriptions have nearly doubled across the British isles in the last 10 years, with 70.9 million being prescribed in 2018 alone.

Figures from 2016 reveal that around one in eight Scots take an antidepressant every day. Meanwhile, the Scottish government reports mental health problems are estimated to cost Scotland £10.7 billion (taking account of social and care costs, economic outputs and human costs) per annum.

But, this week, Smart TMS has launched Scotland’s first transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) clinic in Edinburgh.

It claims TMS uses the same magnetic pulses as MRI machines to treat a variety of conditions including depression, anxiety and addiction by stimulating or reducing activity in relevant brain areas. 

Exclusive research carried out among 2,000 Brits found that:

  • 21% of Scots say they have suffered from undiagnosed depression for many years
    • 25% (11.4 million Brits) say they have suffered from undiagnosed depression for many years
  • 30% of Scots want their GP to prescribe an alternative treatment to prescription drugs for their depression
    • 25% (11.4 million Brits) want their GP to prescribe an alternative treatment to prescription drugs for their depression
  • 20% of Scots say that what used to make them happy no has the same effect – a key sign of depression
    • 22% (10.7 million Brits) say that what used to make them happy no longer has the same effect – a key sign of depression
  • 15% of Scots have left a long-term mental health issue untreated over many years in order to avoid prescription drugs
    • 14% (6.7 million Brits) have left a long-term mental health issue untreated over many years in order to avoid prescription drugs
  • 10% of Scots would pay over £2,000 to receive an innovative treatment for their mental health issue
    • 10% (4.2 million Brits) would pay over £2,000 to receive an innovative treatment for their mental health issue
  • 20% of Scots who have used antidepressants say that they don’t work
    • 15% (7.3 million Brits) of those who have used antidepressants say that they don’t work
  • 21% of Scots have taken prescription medication for depression before and the side effects alone (e.g. insomnia, drowsiness) have dissuaded them from using them again
    • 14% (7 million Brits) have taken prescription medication for depression before and the side effects alone (e.g. insomnia, drowsiness) have dissuaded them from using them again
  • 15% of Scots had to stop using antidepressants because they found them ineffective or they had negative side effects
    • 12% (5.7 million Brits) had to stop using antidepressants because they found them ineffective or they had negative side effects
  • 4% of Scots think that prescribed antidepressants have stopped them from doing their job properly or stopped them from working all together
    • 6% (3.2 million Brits) think that prescribed antidepressants have stopped them from doing their job properly or stopped them from working all together

According to the National Mental Health Development Unit, improved access to psychological therapies can lead to reductions in referrals to the secondary sector and inpatient admissions, fewer GP consultations and counselling sessions, and fewer prescriptions for antidepressant medication, resulting in an estimated 9%-53% reductions in short, medium and long-term costs, especially when implemented at a primary care level.


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