News of Zealand

One in Eight New Zealand Adults Are On Antidepressants

The rising tide of prescription medication, some experts say, is due to a lack of other treatment options.

by Zahra Shahtahmasebi
08 November 2018, 10:57pm

Image via Shutterstock

One in eight New Zealanders over the age of 15 are now on antidepressants. The statistics come from a new study by the University of Otago, which was carried out from 2008 until 2015. However, researchers say that even in the three years since, the number of Kiwis using antidepressants has already increased dramatically.

Researchers also said there has been little evidence to suggest giving out more antidepressant prescriptions actually helped, warning of the significant side-effects, and limited knowledge of the long-term effects of the medication.

However, as the NZ Herald reports, some experts say antidepressants did play an important role in the treatment of some people.

Mental health advocate Mike King said the rising amount of prescriptions being issued was due to doctors feeling prescription medication was the only option because of the excessively long wait times for counselling. “They know wait times are getting longer and longer. It's not something that is going to be fixed overnight.

“We need a secondary service so when you come to the doctor with a mental health issue you're not going straight into the system, because once you are into the mental health services you are automatically deemed to be unwell and that needs to change.”

Kiwi teacher Evie Aitcheson spoke of her seven years of “medicated hell”, following a battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. “It impaired my ability to feel human and to really be present with people and pick up what they were saying.”

In Auckland, psychiatrist David Codrye has been working with Auckland DHB and Counties Manukau DHB on a community initiative, providing a mental-health specialist in local practices so patients could be seen on that day. “Our data from that showed that in time prescriptions plummeted dramatically since having that integrated model of the practice, so there are solutions and we are now doing this in a second clinic in South Auckland.”

Codrye hoped for more funding from the Government’s Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry to get similar initiatives off the ground.

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