By Laura Donnelly
Experts said some of the rise could be explained by an expansion in counseling services, and an increase in mental health problems triggered by financial uncertainties and job stresses.
But others said doctors had become too quick to “medicalise” feelings of distress – and to label people as suffering from psychiatric disorders when their anxiety was a normal response to pressures they were facing.
The statistics, from the NHS Information Centre, show that the number of outpatient appointments for patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders and panic attacks rose from 3,754 to 17,470 between 2006/2007 and 2010/11.
Over the same period, cases admitted to hospital rose by one third, with 8,756 in-patients with such a diagnosis.