1 in 6 people in Northern Ireland are using anti-depressant medication

1 in 6 people in Northern Ireland are using anti-depressant medication

Published on Monday, 21 March 2016

Posted in News

Statistics sought from the Health Minister show that a staggering 300,000 people in Northern Ireland have been prescribed antidepressant medication from their GP during 2014/15. More surprisingly however is that 500 of those people are aged under 15.

Mental health charity, AWARE is the only charity in Northern Ireland working exclusively for those with depression and bipolar disorder. The charity believe that more should be done in terms of promoting talking therapies as an alternative to prescribing antidepressants.

Tom McEneaney, Head of Business Development at AWARE said,

“At AWARE we believe that talking therapies are essential in the treatment of depression. Whilst antidepressant medication can be used alongside talking therapies, we believe that they may not always be necessary in the first instance.

“Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have been recommended in the treatment of depression. At AWARE we offer our Living Life to The Full programme, a group based CBT programme to people with mild to moderate depression. The programme has many benefits and has been described by many as ‘life saving.’

“We have also introduced Mindfulness as an alternative to antidepressant medication into our core services. Clinical evidence says that Mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety for those with the illness of depression. It enables people to learn the skills that prevent the recurrence of depression therefore also effective for people who have suffered bouts of depression in the past.

“Just last week the World Health Organisation published a statement saying that the rise in the use of anti-depressant drugs among children is a concern and previous to that another report was published showing that the rates of depression among teenagers has soared in the past 25 years. Depression is currently the leading cause of disability worldwide and more needs to be done to prevent the illness from occurring in young people.”

Belfast woman, Rebecca Dempsey suffered from depression at a young age and it was only when AWARE visited her school that she was able to relate and seek help.

“AWARE came into my secondary school and delivered a Mood Matters in Young People programme. It was following this programme that I realised all the signs and symptoms of depression was what I was experiencing at that time.  

“I recently took part in AWARE’s course Living Life to the Full programme.  My favourite aspect of the programme was meeting with people each week that finally understood. They know what it’s like to feel like a failure, to feel like you’re falling apart and to feel “different”.  The important component of the course was simply talking and we were able to discuss our feelings in a safe and judgement-free environment.

“Despite suffering from depression, I went through University and received my Pharmacy degree. I now work full time as a registered Pharmacist and I am very happy.”

Tags: Antidepressants | AWARE | CBT | Depression | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Talking Therapies | Young People