The use of antidepressants in England has risen faster than ever since the start of the recession, with unemployment associated with a significant acceleration in the number of pills  prescribed.

Research published by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation shows that the amount of antidepressants dispensed from 15 million items in 1998 to 40 million in 2012. Almost half of that increase occurred in the four years between the 2008 financial crisis and 2012.

The report's authors note that "this striking increase is despite the incidence of depression having risen much more slowly over the same time period". They argue that this means "either antidepressants were heavily under-prescribed in 1998, or they are heavily overprescribed now".

Nuffield Trust researchers also found that areas with more white people, more women, and more people over the age of 65, had the heaviest use of antidepressants. As well as highlighting regional differences, they noted that areas with more men and more people from ethnic minorities had significantly lighter use.

Also GPs who prescribe more antibiotics tend to prescribe more antidepressants, "suggesting doctors vary across the board in how likely they are to use drugs to deal with their patients’ conditions". Also, younger, female GPs who qualified in the UK tend to prescribe more antidepressants .

Adam Roberts, senior research analyst at the Nuffield Trust, said the acceleration in the use of these drugs "raises some difficult questions about the impact that poverty and unemployment can have on people’s health". He added that "the differences between regions suggest that there could be particular underlying problems in mental health for people in areas suffering from unemployment and poor housing".