Antidepressants sweeping Belgium

Sales of antidepressants in Belgium have seen a spectacular 35 percent rise in the past 10 years. According to figures supplied by the Institute for Farmaco-Epidemiology Belgium (IFEB), Belgians purchased the equivalent of 314 million day dosages last year, it was announced in the VRT's radio news programme 'De Wereld Vandaag'.
Alice S. / BSIP

The figure for last year is 2.7 percent up on 2014, 16 percent on 2010 and even 35 percent on 2005. Figures are even believed to have tripled since 1995. 

The rise comes despite various campaigns to discourage the use of antidepressants. Experts say that doctors and psychologists are prescribing the pills too easily, while not enough efforts are being done to help long-term users step out.

Patients also have to realise that taking the pills is not always the best solution. "In some cases, antidepressants are a good solution for patients with heavy problems, but not for everybody", says Stijn Vanheule of the Ghent University UGent.

The Health Minister Maggie De Block told the VRT she will discuss how prescribers can be convinced to change their habits. On the other hand, she remarks that stress-related illnesses - such as burn-outs - are gaining ground. Work should also be done in other areas to prevent this.