The number of mental health medicines prescribed in 2022/23 in England has increased since last year across antidepressants, central nervous system and ADHD drugs, antipsychotics and drugs for dementia.
But hypnotics and anxiolytics items and the number of patients using these items both decreased by 2% since last year, according to recent figures from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA).
In 2022/23, 86 million antidepressant items were prescribed to an estimated 8.6 million identified patients.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were the most frequently prescribed antidepressant, continuing an upward trend since 2015/16.
But the prescribing of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) has decreased by 60.1% since 2015/16, to 19,100 items in 2022/23.
The number of patients prescribed antidepressants, as well as items prescribed, has increased across all four quarters of the year period, with a small decrease between January to February 2023, before increasing again in March. The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) said that this seasonal variation has been seen at the same point in every year since 2015/16.
More female patients than male were prescribed antidepressants in 2022/23, with female patients aged 50 to 54 the largest group of identified patients prescribed antidepressants.
NHS North East and Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) had the highest rate of antidepressant prescribing, with 240 people per 1,000 population being prescribed an antidepressant drug. Meanwhile, NHS North East London ICB had the lowest rate at 108 per 1,000 population.
Antipsychotic prescribing also increased to 13 million items for 850,000 identified patients in 2022/23.
While the upward trend in items and patients prescribed central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and drugs for ADHD has continued, reaching 2.5 million in 2022/23.
For the first time, more adults than children were prescribed at least one CNS stimulants and drugs used for ADHD item, with 120,000 adult patients compared to 112,000 child patients.
This follows a sharp upward trend in adult prescribing, with 31.8% more adult identified patients being prescribed the drugs since 2021/22, compared to 12.5% more child identified patients.
Dementia drugs were the only category of mental health drug in which prescribing was higher in less deprived areas.
In 2022/23, 4.2 million drugs for dementia items were prescribed – 4.19% more than in 2021/22. This was for an estimated 293,000 identified patients – 6.08% more than 2021/22.
An estimated 53,700 of those patients were based in the most deprived areas in England – 26% fewer than in the least deprived areas.
This is consistent with patterns since 2016-17 of higher rates of dementia drug prescribing in less deprived areas.