Rise in depression rates 'linked with money worries'

Money worries caused by the current unstable economic climate are associated with a rise in depression levels in the UK, new research has suggested.

Data obtained by the BBC showed prescriptions for anti-depressant medication - such as Prozac - have risen by more than 40 per cent over the past four years.

Charities and GPs also revealed they have witnessed an increase in the number of individuals contacting them with regards to concerns over job security and debt.

Dr Clare Gerada, head of the Royal College of GPs, said it is expected that mental health problems will worsen during times of economic hardship, adding: "They feel guilty that they can't provide for their family and these things can often act as a trigger for depression."

Last month, behavioural change specialist Seven Suphi claimed males are more likely to suffer from mental health problems as a result of the recession, as the impact of the downturn on job opportunities in traditionally male industries will affect a man’s perception of his identity.

Professor Peter Kinderman, Chartered Psychologist and Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology, said: "The sharp increase in antidepressant prescription discovered by the BBC was predicted - the British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology and many others warned that economic recession was likely to impact on people's mental health. The increase itself, as others have commented, probably reflects a greater ability on the part of GPs to recognise mental health problems and a greater desire for members of the public to receive some help. So it's good that people are seeking help, it's good that professionals are recognising their distress and good that they are being offered help."

"But it also seems most likely that economic and social problems are responsible for an increase in mental health problems - and indeed most likely that social factors are behind most mental health problems in general. So psychologists, in particular, argue that people need to talk - we argue for greater access to evidence-based psychological therapies. Antidepressants may have their role, but a pill for economic recession seems odd."

"And, at a time of great uncertainly in the NHS, fears over whether the new commissioning scheme will be capable of responding adequately to mental health needs, and social pressures, the British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology renews its call for sustained investment in mental health services, a greater investment evidence-based psychological therapies, and a coherent psychosocial focus to mental health care."