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expert reaction to relationship between antidepressant prescriptions and Brexit vote

Research published in Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health show that there has been a relative increase in antidepressant prescribing after the EU/UK referendum.


Prof Allan Young, Professor of Mood Disorders, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London (IoPPN), said:

“Whilst these findings are interesting and eye catching they should be treated with great caution.  As the authors note, an observational study such as this cannot ascribe cause and effect.  Antidepressant prescriptions have risen in England consistently over recent years and these data may simply reflect that rather than one single event. It should be noted that antidepressants are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders as well as mood disorders and it is credible that people may be more anxious because of recent uncertainty in society. However, levels of anxiety across the population were not reported in this study so cannot be shown explicitly. Nevertheless, the call to support mental health issues should be heeded.”


‘The EU referendum and mental health in the short term: a natural experiment using antidepressant prescriptions in England’ by Sotiris Vandoros et al. was published in Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health at 23:30 UK time on Tuesday 20th November.


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


The SMC also produced a Factsheet on antidepressants which is available here:


Declared interests

None received.

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