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Antidepressants: Going to Wrong Patients

August 10, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) ““ A new study reveals that prescriptions for antidepressants are increasing among Americans with no psychiatric diagnosis.

Antidepressants are one of the most costly and the third most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. In the last two decades, the use of antidepressants has grown tremendously. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports from 2005 to 2008 nearly nine percent of Americans during any given month, had at least one antidepressant prescription in their medicine cabinet.

Researchers used data from the 1996-2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys. They studied a national sample of office-based physician visits by patients’ ages 18 years and older during a one-week period. The team compared antidepressant visits lacking psychiatric diagnoses with antidepressant visits including psychiatric diagnoses and visits lacking both prescriptions for antidepressants and psychiatric diagnoses.

“Nearly four out of every five antidepressant prescriptions are written by non-psychiatrist providers. Between 1996 and 2007, the number of visits where individuals were prescribed antidepressants with no psychiatric diagnoses increased from 59.5 percent to 72.7 percent and the share of providers who prescribed antidepressants without a concurrent psychiatric diagnosis increased from 30 percent of all non-psychiatrist physicians in 1996 to 55.4 percent in 2007,” Ramin Mojtabai, M.D., PhD, M.P.H., lead study author, and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health, was quoted saying.

The researchers recommend that antidepressants should be prescribed primarily to individuals with severe depression or a confirmed psychiatric diagnosis.

“Antidepressants are being prescribed for uses not supported by clinical evidence. There may be a need to improve providers’ prescribing practices, revamp drug formularies or undertake broad reforms of the health care system that will increase communication between primary care providers and mental health specialists,” Dr. Mojtabai said.

SOURCE: Health Affairs, August 10, 2011.




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