Almost 10% of people over the age of 15 in Scotland have been prescribed antidepressants – normally by their GPs, according to official NHS figures.
Despite a fall in costs, Scotland spends more than £40m every year on antidepressants. GPs issue the vast majority of prescriptions for medicines used in mental health. The figure includes prescriptions written in hospitals that are dispensed in the community, though not drugs dispensed at hospitals.
According to NHS Scotland, statistics on medicines used in mental health, the number of antidepressants prescribed has more than tripled in the last 15 years. The figure has grown from 1.16 million items to 3.83 million between 1992/93 and 2007/08. It is also estimated that 9.3% of the Scottish population aged 15 and over use an antidepressant drug every day.
Liberal Democrat public health spokesman Jamie Stone said: "The high numbers of Scots making daily use of antidepressants is cause for serious concern. The health secretary must ensure that in Scotland antidepressants are not allowed to become a quick fix for depression."
The gross ingredient cost of antidepressant medicines in 2007/08 was £40.4m, down from £43.7m in the previous financial year. The decrease is ascribed to a number drugs being reduced in price.