Rise in prescribing anti-anxiety medications suggests more patients are open to seeking help for mental health concerns says College

Publication date: 22 March 2022

Responding to a BJGP study: the rise in prescribing for anxiety in the UK primary care between 2003 and 2018, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following.

“Evidence shows that antidepressants can be effective drugs when used appropriately, so this research should not be a cause for alarm – indeed, it is most likely to suggest that more people are seeking medical help for anxiety-related conditions, as well as improvement in the identification and diagnosis of them.

“There may be a number of reasons why more women than men are being prescribed anti-anxiety medication, but one is likely to be that women are more comfortable seeking help for mental health conditions. It shows there is still more that needs to be done to address stigma associated with poor mental health, particularly amongst men, and we’d encourage men who are struggling with their mental health to come forward and seek medical support.

“GPs are highly trained to have open, sensitive and confidential conversations with their patients, and when discussing mental health concerns, they will consider various treatment options based on the unique needs of the patient. It’s important to note that this study looked at prescribing rates pre-pandemic, and GPs across the country are reporting increasing presentations of mental health conditions, including anxiety, since the onset of the crisis. What we do need to see to improve mental health care for patients is better access to alternative mental health treatments in the community across the country – and for staffing in general practice to be addressed, including increasing numbers of mental health therapists.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7659
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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