Deprived coastal towns have more depression prescriptions

While this article concentrates on coastal towns in the north of England, the research findings are applicable to many other coastal towns, more than one of which could be said to be in East Devon.

“Doctors in deprived coastal towns in the north and east of England are prescribing almost twice as many antidepressants as those in the rest of the country, analysis of prescription data shows.

Blackpool, Sunderland and East Lindsey, in Skegness, fill the top three spots for the most prescriptions out of England’s 326 districts.

Psychologists said the findings were consistent with links between deprivation and depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. But they added that seaside towns faced a particular set of difficulties that could give rise to mental health issues. …

Dr Jay Watts, a consultant clinical psychologist, said there were established problems with seaside towns that could affect the mental health of their residents. Blackpool, for example, has the lowest life expectancy for men in the country, and last year topped the list for alcohol-related hospital admissions, she said.

“You’ve got high deprivation, high crime, low life expectancy, loads of alcohol problems,” she said. “Also all of these places tend to be, to a certain extent, ghost towns.

“Because of the destruction of local economies by the cheapening of foreign travel, that we’ve known has been happening since the 1960s onwards, one tends to be environmentally surrounded with the ghosts of a better time.”

Peter Kinderman, president of the British Psychological Society and professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool, said the findings were consistent with established theories on what causes depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

“You’ve got lack of opportunity, lack of a sense of meaning and purpose in life,” he said. “You’ve got the financial consequences on families, consequent pressure on relationships; a toxic mix of how social and economic factors can put pressure on our mental health and psychological wellbeing.”

Pressure on local authorities and civic organisations trying to operate without a well-functioning economy meant there was a lack of services that could help people with mental health problems, he said.

“Incidentally, I don’t blame the GPs or the psychiatrists. What the hell else have they got to offer people?”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/14/antidepressants-prescribed-deprived-seaside-towns-of-north-and-east-blackpool-sunderland-and-east-lindsey-nhs

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