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Despite antidepressant prescribing in primary care increasing since the financial crisis, a SPCR study shows that GPs have responded to the introduction of NICE guidelines and QOF measures that encourage more targeted use of antidepressants. Prescription of antidepressants in people with a first bout of depression has fallen by 12 percent between 2003 and 2013, from around 73% to 61%.

In a press release issued on 13 August in Pulse Today, study lead Professor Tony Kendrick said "GPs did try and follow NICE guidelines to reduce antidepressant prescribing, and that was reinforced by QOF, although it was only for new cases of depression. The reduction in prescribing for new cases was cancelled out by increased longer-term prescribing for recurrent cases, and overall prescriptions went up due to longer courses being prescribed."

The SPCR project considered how GP management of depression changed since 2006 and explored the effects of QOF, the economic recession and NICE guidelines on rates of diagnosis, antidepressant prescribing and referrals.

Read the press release in Pulse Today.