University of Limerick
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Antidepressant medication prescribing patterns in Irish General Practice from 2016 to 2020 to assess for long term use

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-14, 14:00 authored by Aoibhin McCool, Kurt Lukas, Peter HayesPeter Hayes, Dervla KellyDervla Kelly
Background/aims The aim of this study was to identify the trends in antidepressant (AD) medication use in two Irish general practices over a 5-year period, 2016 to 2020. The rationale for this study is attributed to the growing prevalence of depression amongst the Irish general public as well as concerns surrounding long-term AD medication use. Methods The research was undertaken in 2021 examining AD prescription rates from 2016 to 2020. The medications of interest were selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRI and SNRIs): sertraline, escitalopram, fuoxetine and venlafaxine. The number of medical card holders (MCH) and prescription dispensing rates were analysed for observable trends. Results AD medication use is rising amongst the Irish MCH population. The number of MCH prescribed AD grew from 9.42 to 12.3 per 100 MCH between the years 2016 and 2020, respectively. The year 2020 represented the largest proportion of MCH prescriptions, 6.32 AD prescriptions per 1000 MCH prescriptions. The years 2019 to 2020 represented the largest annual increase in prescription dispensing with a growth of 0.45 per 1000 MCH prescriptions. Annual fgures show a continual increase in AD dispensing refll rates from 4.14 to 5.67 per 1000 MCH prescriptions in 2016 and 2020, respectively. Conclusion This study illustrates a steady rise in AD medication within the general practice setting, with an observed rise in prescription dispensing rates. The high proportion of refll prescriptions demonstrates the long-term use of AD medications. This may be indicative of chronic depression or may highlight a lack of appropriate medication cessation strategies.



Irish Journal of Medical Science;




peer-reviewed The full text of this article will not be available in ULIR until the embargo expires on the 29/10/2022


The original publication is available at



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