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Sales of antidepressants, suicides and hospital admissions for depression in Veneto Region, Italy, from 2000 to 2005: an ecological study

Giuseppe Guaiana1, Margherita Andretta2, Eric Griez3, Bruno Biancosino4* and Luigi Grassi5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, Regional Mental Health Care Saint Thomas, Saint Thomas, Ontario, Canada

2 Servizio Farmaceutico ULSS 20, Via Valverde 42, 37122 Verona, Italy

3 University of Maastricht, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Vijverdalseweg 1 Maastricht, The Netherlands

4 Azienda USL Ferrara, Dipartimento di Salute Mentale e Dipendenze Patologiche, Via Ghiara 38, 44100 Ferrara, Italy

5 University of Ferrara, Department of Medical-Surgical Disciplines of Communication and Behavior, Section of Psychiatry, Corso Giovecca 203, 44100 Ferrara, Italy

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Annals of General Psychiatry 2011, 10:24  doi:10.1186/1744-859X-10-24

Published: 30 September 2011



Increased prescription of antidepressants has been consistently associated with a decrease in suicide rates in several countries. The aim of this study is to explore antidepressant consumption, suicide rates and admission for depression in the Veneto Region, Italy, in order to see whether the same pattern could be detected.


Data from the Italian Ministry of Health (admissions for depression), the Pharmacy Service of a Local Health Unit (antidepressant prescribing) and from the Epidemiological System of the Veneto region (suicide rates) were collected from 2000 to 2005 for the Veneto region.


Suicide rates did not show any marked increase but were stable in males and females. Antidepressant prescribing increased exponentially over the period examined, whilst admissions for depression markedly decreased. The trend for an exponential increase in antidepressant prescribing in the Veneto region is shared with other countries and locales.


It is possible that the increase in antidepressant prescribing might be associated with earlier treatment of depression, thus decreasing the likelihood of aggravation of depression.