Why are more women depressed? Is this a real epidemic – or the result of cynical marketing by drug giants?

Mail Online

By John Naish

Last updated at 11:33 PM on 12th September 2011

More women than ever are reaching for the happy pills, it was revealed last week. New research suggests there has been a massive increase in the number of women with depression.

Women are twice as likely to suffer from the illness than they were 40 years ago, and as many as one in seven will be affected by the condition at some point in their lives — more than double the number of men, according to a study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

And the result of these soaring depression levels is becoming all too clear — a massive rise in prescriptions for antidepressant drugs.

Newly released figures from the Office for National Statistics show that more than four times as many prescriptions for drugs such as Prozac and Cipramil were dispensed in England in 2009 than 18 years before.

Women are twice as likely to be prescribed antidepressants than men — around two-thirds of all NHS antidepressant drugs are prescribed to women. The scale of these increases, over a comparatively short period  of time, is breathtaking. So what’s behind  the rise?

The German researchers for the European study blame one factor: modern life. Professor Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, in charge of the research, says the pressure of trying to cope with having a family and pursuing a career is leaving women with a ‘tremendous burden’.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.