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Anti-depressant and sedative use - north and south


Shqiptar

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In a recent article in the Irish Medical Times dealing with the effect of recession and unemployment on suicide levels, the following startling statistics emerge.

However, the number of adults [in the Republic of Ireland] who have used sedatives and tranquillisers over the previous year has risen by 1.8 per cent since 2006/07, but rates of antidepressant use have remained steady.

Both of these statistics are still significantly below usage figures in Northern Ireland, where antidepressant and sedative use is almost three times and double that in the Republic.
Why is usage so much higher a few kilometres up the road? It can't be the weather or lack of sunlight. Is it a lingering after-effect of the violence that rocked Northern Ireland from the 1960s to the late 1990s? Or is the UK NHS being a little too laissez-faire, chucking happy pills across the counter at all and sundry?

All in all, it seems that so far, despite a sharp rise in unemployment in the Republic, there has only been a small rise in suicides (compare with Greece where the rise has been 60%) although the authors do note that there often is a delayed impact that has effects years after the economic crisis takes hold.

Source:

1. Recession ‘adding urgency’ to suicide prevention need

(Answer "yes" to the medical professional question or you won't get to see the article.)
 

sondagefaux

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The percentage of people in NI who've had family/friends killed or injured, themselves been injured or who've witnessed serious violence would be much higher than in the republic.

In 2010 it was estimated that 107,000 people in Northern Ireland suffered some physical injury as a result of the conflict. On the basis of data gathered by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, the Victims Commission estimated that the conflict resulted in 500,000 'victims' in Northern Ireland alone. It defines 'victims' are those who are directly affected by 'bereavement', 'physical injury' or 'trauma' as a result of the conflict.[133]
(Cunningham, Simon. "Troubles created 500 000 victims says official body". The Irish News, 27 September 2011.)

The Troubles - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

That's a huge percentage of NI's total population of 1.811 million.

If you deduct those born or moved to NI (eg. Eastern European immigrants) after the violence had largely ended, you'd get about 1.5 million people who were around during the worst of the violence.

If the Victims Commission estimate is accurate, one in three of those people were directly affected in some way.

Add the NHS to that, and it's not surprising that antidepressant and sedatives are prescribed much more frequently.
 

Iphonista

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In response to the OP, I think social spending has historically been very high in NI. The London government just kept throwing money at the problem in the hope that sooner or later, things would calm down.
 

Seanie Lemass

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There is a higher rate of social welfare dependency in the north. There is a ridiculous amount of people on Disability for example. It is also easier to get free prescription drugs and if something is free lots of people will use it to get whacked out of their heads. Most of the creatures around O'Connell Street are apparently on prescription stuff which has become a burgeoning market.
 
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Iphonista

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Gosh, I wonder where they get it? Is that another cross border trade we've missed?
 

irelandmearsedotcom

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14,300 people in Derry /Londonderry are disabled ie on DLA (Disability Living Allowance or Derry Living Allowance or Derry London Allowance depending on your sense of humor). This in a city with a population of about 90000. Could quite possibly be the largest disabled community in the world hi!
 

eyelight

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Why is usage so much higher a few kilometres up the road? It can't be the weather or lack of sunlight. Is it a lingering after-effect of the violence that rocked Northern Ireland from the 1960s to the late 1990s? Or is the UK NHS being a little too laissez-faire, chucking happy pills across the counter at all and sundry?
Could be the availability of the NHS itself, with free doctor visits, and cheap prescriptions. Or do they now have free prescriptions in NI as well?
 

Shqiptar

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Analyzer

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14,300 people in Derry /Londonderry are disabled ie on DLA (Disability Living Allowance or Derry Living Allowance or Derry London Allowance depending on your sense of humor). This in a city with a population of about 90000. Could quite possibly be the largest disabled community in the world hi!
Reminds me of a similar story about an island in Greece, where men claiming disability allowance for blindness, were driving taxis.
 

greenbacks

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I was put on Lexepro after a family bereavment last October. Had to give them up as they made me feel worse. I was constantly tired but found it hard to sleep, my appetite was all over the place as was my moods. I think anti depressants are over prescribed and doctors should make you more aware of possible side affects. Giving them up was the best thing I did, I swapped it for exercise which is better than any drug imo.
 

pandora

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I'm not sure if we are comparing like with like here.
While almost all prescribing in NI is on the NHS and so included in official figures, a lot of people in the South have to pay privately for their prescriptions and, to the best of my knowledge, the only official figures we have are for prescriptions on the state funded schemes (the medical card and the DPS).
Having to pay a GP, usually on a monthly basis as most won't supply repeat prescriptions for benzos and sleeping tablets, means that many patients in the South who might benefit from drug treatment simply can't afford it.
 

Shqiptar

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I was put on Lexepro after a family bereavment last October. Had to give them up as they made me feel worse. I was constantly tired but found it hard to sleep, my appetite was all over the place as was my moods. I think anti depressants are over prescribed and doctors should make you more aware of possible side affects. Giving them up was the best thing I did, I swapped it for exercise which is better than any drug imo.
There's way too much of this going on. People are being offered pills for everything and anything. After a bereavement, surely counselling would be a better option but it doesn't always seem to be readily available.
 

Shqiptar

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I'm not sure if we are comparing like with like here.
While almost all prescribing in NI is on the NHS and so included in official figures, a lot of people in the South have to pay privately for their prescriptions and, to the best of my knowledge, the only official figures we have are for prescriptions on the state funded schemes (the medical card and the DPS).
Having to pay a GP, usually on a monthly basis as most won't supply repeat prescriptions for benzos and sleeping tablets, means that many patients in the South who might benefit from drug treatment simply can't afford it.
Are you suire about that? Surely the sedatives etc. are only available through a GP so why would non-medical card figures be excluded?
 

greenbacks

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There's way too much of this going on. People are being offered pills for everything and anything. After a bereavement, surely counselling would be a better option but it doesn't always seem to be readily available.
I had a particularly bad year and was diagnosed with severe depression, my brothers death tipped me over the edge as it was completely unexpected (car accident). I just decided to throw the pills away and distract myself as much as I could and that entailed the gym, (which I love) my college studies and my friends. The staff and my fellow students have been fantastic too so that definitely helped. As you said, a pill for every ill is not the solution.
 

pandora

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Are you suire about that? Surely the sedatives etc. are only available through a GP so why would non-medical card figures be excluded?
Because there is no easy way of counting them. It isn't a case of 'excluding' them it is a case that they aren't known. They are 'private' prescriptions. The state or official bodies has no record of their existence.
When Roisin Shorthall was in the Dept of Health she tried to impose greater controls and this was one of the problems she ran up against. If the state isn't doing the paying they aren't informed about the prescriptions.
The only exception is methadone, which can only be prescribed on a state monitored scheme.
 

blokesbloke

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Poor mental health services plus free prescriptions for all in NI mean GPs will happily write out prescriptions for antidepressants as an easy fix for someone complaining of a mental health problem, and people are likely to take them because they can obtain the drugs for free, and feel they are offered no alternative.
 

Shqiptar

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I had a particularly bad year and was diagnosed with severe depression, my brothers death tipped me over the edge as it was completely unexpected (car accident). I just decided to throw the pills away and distract myself as much as I could and that entailed the gym, (which I love) my college studies and my friends. The staff and my fellow students have been fantastic too so that definitely helped. As you said, a pill for every ill is not the solution.
Good God, very sorry to hear that. That sort of tragedy would devastate anyone. It sounds like you fought your way through it which was quite an achievement. By no means everyone does it on their own.

My sister lost her partner tragically six years ago. She was prescribed Lexapro for a short while and found it very helpful but this was in conjunction with counselling sessions.

My mother is on a very low dosage of it since she stared experiencing the occasional suicidal thoughts three years ago. But those thoughts have gone (she was in early stage dementia then and I'm now looking after her full time) and I recently suggested to her that she come off the Lexapro but she wouldn't hear of it.
 

damus

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There's way too much of this going on. People are being offered pills for everything and anything. After a bereavement, surely counselling would be a better option but it doesn't always seem to be readily available.
Sure there are some psych's who think that bereavement is a psych disorder...and there's also a tendancy to prescribe benzo's and hypnotics to compensate for the lack of talk therapy! Research also suggests that the use of these meds is higher amongst professionals, senior civil servants, senior management and persons who may be dependent on sw. There was also a study published in the last week by Queens University Belfast (QUB) which raised concerns about the overuse of anti-psychotics, hypnotics and anxiolytics in community homes for the elderly in NI.

Irish drugs and alcohol research - Use of sedatives or tranquillisers and anti-depressants in Ireland. - Drugs and Alcohol

Sedative and tranquilliser use increases 40% in five years - The Irish Times - Wed, Oct 24, 2012

Worry over antipsychotic drugs in care homes - Health News - NHS Choices
 
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