New Zealand continues to use several antidepressants, but there are no signs that it improves mental health.
This is the conclusion of the Otago University study, published in New Zealand Medical Journal today.
New Zealand is the eighth largest consumer of antidepressants per person in the OECD.
According to the survey, in 2015, 13 percent of all New Zealanders aged 15 years and older were prescribed antidepressants.
This was 16 per cent of women and 9 per cent of men, and from 2008 a 21 per cent increase.
European women aged 65 and over were the highest users, with one in five receiving a prescription.
One of the authors, psychiatrist Roger Mulder, could not tell why, but he said that it was clear that while antidepressants work for some, they may not work well for others.
"One of the reasons that we believe is that, despite this great increase in the last few decades, there has been no evidence of community mental health measures while this is happening.
"The rate of suicide has not decreased … it seems that the psychological pressure of people is at least as bad as it was."
He said that those with mild symptoms did not benefit much from drugs.
"They really work best in people with severe, recurrent or melancholic depression."
The study said that the rate of increase in use slowed down, which, according to Professor Mulder, indicated saturation, with little room for further growth in use.
"This puts into question our current way of trying to deal with psychological distress in the community to give more and more people antidepressants do not seem a good strategy."
Auckland University professor of general practice and primary care Bruce Arroll said that antidepressants were over-estimated.
"The rate of suicide is stable or rising, and if they were so good, there should be a big difference in terms of suicide rates, but this has not happened yet."
Shaun Robinson, Executive Director of the Foundation for Mental Health, said that New Zealanders were too dependent on antidepressants.
"Our response to depression, anxiety, and just the general distress that people have in everyday life is too much on this medical model. We do not offer enough counseling and therapy, we do not necessarily consider the … life of people."
Social issues needed more attention.
Warkworth GP Kate Baddock, who heads the medical association, said that the problem was not too much prescription by doctors, but the growing issue of mental health.
"The growing number of people suffering from mental distress and mental stress and mental health, we have at their disposal a limited amount of speech therapy that is financed."
She added that antidepressants were about as effective as therapeutic therapy, and people used it, which was available at reasonable cost.
Antidepressants cost the country $ 8.5 million in June, without GST, pharmaceutical add-ons and confidential discounts.
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