Antidepressant Use Doubled In U.S. Over Past Decade

depressedAntidepressant use in the U.S. nearly doubled between 1996 and 2005, according to a new report. In 1996, approximately 6 percent of Americans, or 13 million people, were taking antidepressant drugs. Researchers at Columbia University and the University of Pennyslvania in Philadelphia found that this number had increased to 10 percent of Americans, or 27 million people, by 2005. Although the survey did not look at the reasons for the increase, the researchers offered some suggestions. Depression may not carry the social stigma it once did. More patients are seeking treatment, and more drugs are available. Companies marketing antidepressants are spending a larger percentage of their budgets on direct-to-consumer advertising.

The study found that the number of patients being treated for depression is the same, suggesting that the drugs are being used to treat other problems such as anxiety and mood disorders. As researchers noted, nobody is exactly sure what the drugs are being prescribed for, raising concerns that antidepressants are being overprescribed. The study uncovered another item of concern: The majority of patients taking antidepressants aren’t seeing psychiatrists, which begs the question of who is prescribing the drugs.

Suicide warnings on drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft caused a dip in the prescription of antidepressants, but as the study noted, they are the most prescribed class of drugs in the U.S. Americans spent $9.6 billion on antidepressants last year.

CNS Response uses physiologic markers to assist doctors in developing a personalized treatment strategy for patients with mental disorders. Companies developing treatments for depression include Affectis PharmaceuticalsAmarin Corporation, NeuroSearch, and Clinical Insights.

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