THE equivalent of more than one in ten Barnsley residents were prescribed anti-depressants in the first three months of the year, shock new figures have revealed.

Figures from the Open Prescribing Service show 613,631 prescriptions for anti-depressants were given out in the NHS Barnsley CCG area in the year to March - a monthly average of 193.1 prescriptions per 1,000 patients.

This is an increase of four per cent from last year, when an average of 183.9 were given, and an increase of nine per cent from 2019/20.

Anti-depressants are commonly prescribed to improve mental health but may also be taken for conditions not directly related to this such as certain types of long-term pain.

There has also been a rise in the number of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) - the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants for mental health conditions in the country.

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They are thought to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, and are often used to treat depression and anxiety.

In Barnsley, these were prescribed more than 322,000 times last year - equating to 26,906 every month.

The figures are for the number of times medication has appeared on prescriptions, but do not show the quantity of medication given and multiple prescriptions can be given out to the same person.

Stephen Buckley, the head of information at charity Mind, said: “Recent data on increased prescription rates suggests people are once again asking for help from their GP.

“The increase in prescriptions could indicate the prevalence of poor mental health is likely to have increased, which seems likely, and echoes our own research.

“The rise in anti-depressant prescriptions dispensed could also reflect a wider shift in social attitudes, as stigma surrounding mental health decreases, and awareness and understanding improves.”