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Middle-aged depression alarms Turner

Media statement
For immediate release
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Middle-aged depression alarms Turner

In the last two years the number of anti-depressant prescriptions to middle-aged Kiwis aged between 45 and 64 has risen by an astonishing 69%, according to Ministry of Health figures obtained by UnitedFuture health spokesperson, Judy Turner.

The number of prescriptions for anti-depressants given out in New Zealand has doubled in only ten years, with over 1.1 million being written out in 2006/7. The number of prescriptions has risen 12% in the last year alone.

“Why are so many New Zealanders becoming increasingly depressed in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s?

“Coupled with new findings from a British university review casting doubt over the effectiveness of anti-depressant medication, the huge number of New Zealanders ingesting anti-depressants raises concerns about how we are treating depression in this country.

“Is prescribing anti-depressants an appropriate first response to signs of depression, and are we heading down the American path of having a population addicted to ‘quick-fix’ pharmaceuticals?

“It raises the question of whether the health system is getting value for money given that PHARMAC subsidises anti-depressants to the tune of $27 million a year and is constantly searching for money to fund other drugs,” said Mrs Turner


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