This report from our QualityWatch programme, in partnership with the Nuffield Trust, examines the trends in antidepressant prescribing in English primary care from 1998 to 2012.

Focus On: Antidepressant prescribing examines long-term trends in antidepressant prescribing and explores the impact of the financial crisis and subsequent recession on antidepressant prescribing by GPs.

The study shows that between 1998 and 2012, the amount of antidepressants dispensed in the community each year rose by 25 million – from 15 million items in 1998, to 40 million in 2012. Almost half of that increase occurred in the four years between the 2008 financial crisis and 2012, the last year for which data are available.

'It's striking that GPs were prescribing an extra 2.7 million antidepressants in 2012, compared to the trend we saw during the years of economic growth.'
Adam Roberts, Senior Research Analyst and report co-author, Nuffield Trust

This is the fifth in the Focus On series of reports, published as part of the QualityWatch programme.

About QualityWatch

QualityWatch is a major research programme from the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, providing independent scrutiny into how the quality of health and social care is changing over time. For further resources and analysis from this programme of work, visit the dedicated QualityWatch website.