STOCKHOLM, Nov 28 -- An estimated one million people take antidepressants in Sweden, more than ever before. According to Xinhua news agency, quoting Swedish Television (SVT) report, about one in ten Swedes took antidepressants last year – twice as many as in the early 2000s.
Sweden now has one of the world's highest rates of antidepressant consumption.
Mikael Tiger, a mental health researcher at the Karolinska Institute, said that one explanation for this was that there was no longer a stigma attached to depression and people were more willing to seek help for depression.
"Another reason is that patents have expired on antidepressants, which has made it much cheaper to prescribe them," he told SVT.
Another explanation may have been that the incidence rate of stress disorders has actually increased. "Yes, it (stress) can be a triggering factor for getting depression or some kind of anxiety disorder, which then makes it appropriate to undergo drug treatment," explained Ylva Ginsberg, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute's Department of Clinical Neuroscience.
Bo Runeson, professor of psychiatry researching suicide at the Karolinska Institute, told SVT that he saw how the number of suicides had decreased since the introduction of antidepressants.
"Another positive effect is that the antidepressant drugs have largely replaced the prescription of sedative drugs in anxiety disorders."
"Since 2011, there has been a significant reduction in (the taking of) benzodiazepines among young people. This is positive because these agents are very addictive and have many side effects," said Runeson.
According to Tiger, the high prescription rate of antidepressants did not pose a risk to public health.
"The typical case of over-prescribing is people in retirement homes who receive it without clear diagnosis," he said.