Are Antidepressants Being Over Prescribed?

pillstobehappyStudies have shown that over the past 20 years, the use of antidepressants has grown significantly throughout the United States. Today, more than one out of every 10 Americans are taking some form of antidepressant and among women who are in their 40s and 50s, these numbers go up to one out of every four.

Experts have many different reasons for this. Some claim that there are bouts of depression among American adults because of the economy while others feel that there are television ads touting the medication as a quick fix for anything that ails. Insurance plans pay for antidepressants so most consumers feel that they are just what are needed.

Studies have shown however, that the real reason the antidepressant market is on the rise is due to a major over-diagnosis with regards to depression. A study that was published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics shows that out of 5,000 patients who were diagnosed with depression, nearly two-thirds of those patients did not meet medical criteria for a major episode of depression and actually did not need to be taking the medication at all.

“The study is not the first to find that patients frequently get “false positive” diagnoses for depression. Several earlier review studies have reported that diagnostic accuracy is low in general practice offices, in large part because serious depression is so rare in that setting”

The most misdiagnosed patients are typically those in their golden years. Nearly six of every seven patients who are over 65 years of age have been misdiagnosed with depression and given antidepressants that they actually did not need. The vast majority of all patients diagnosed with depression were prescribed some form of antidepressant and most of those patients will take the medication for many years, even though they really do not need it at all.

Studies have shown that some patients do not even respond to the medication. If the corticotrophin releasing hormone or CRH gene is missing, patients may not respond well to treatment by antidepressants. And yet many physicians are still prescribing them.

“A team at the University of California Los Angeles shows that a specific variation in the corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) gene is linked to response to the antidepressants fluoxetine and desipramine”

Alternative Medicine is Being Promoted by NIHC

NIHCThe National Institute for Health Care Excellent has begun to urge physicians to use alternative methods for treating patients who are not currently suffering from severe levels of depression. There are a number of alternative methods available.

This is not a problem that is only seen in the United States. The BBC recently ran a series of news reports that show that the UK is also suffering from an overflow of antidepressant prescriptions. Many patients are not even receiving the proper treatment. They are simply being handed prescriptions for various antidepressants without finding out exactly what their medical condition is.

The UK has recently begun to urge doctors to treat patients who suffer from depression with alternative forms as well.

“First, we know that exercise can help to reduce depression in certain people who have such symptoms. Therefore one argument is to increase the availability of exercise and social recreation, which is cheaper than training more clinical psychologists”

It has become essential not only in America but in other countries as well that patients are thoroughly tested to ensure that depression exists before prescribing any sort of medication, particularly those that could have dangerous side effects.

Causes And Treatments For Panic Attacks

Anxiety is something that millions of people live with every day. Everyday life can cause even the most relaxed person to feel just a bit over-anxious. Work, family and a number of other issues can contribute to anxiety, which could result in a full-blown panic attack. While some people are perfectly calm under normal stress, some are naturally prone to be a bit more anxious than others.

“But some people, no matter how robust their stock portfolios or how healthy their children, are always mentally preparing for doom. They are just born worriers, their brains forever anticipating the dropping of some dreaded other shoe”

freakingoutaboutnothingScientists believe that mental illnesses such as anxiety orders are complex and that many of them result from a combination of many different factors. Just like diabetes and heart disease, many anxiety disorders could stem from genetics in addition to psychological, environmental and developmental factors. Many anxiety disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD are triggered entirely by trauma although there are genetic studies that explain why certain people are more prone to experience PTSD than others, even when those people are exposed to the exact same trauma.

Many areas of the brain have to be considered when dealing with anxiety and fear. The amygdala section of the brain is believed to be the communication hub between other areas. It is the region that processes and interprets incoming sensory signals. It alerts the brain whenever there is a threat present and is also the area that triggers responses of anxiety or panic. The hippocampus encodes events that are threatening or those that cause panic and turns them into memories.

“The hippocampus is the part of the brain that encodes threatening events into memories. Studies have shown that the hippocampus appears to be smaller in some people who were victims of child abuse or who served in military combat”.

More research can help scientists to determine why there is a reduced hippocampus in those that seem more prone to some anxiety issues such as PTSD. By learning how the brain creates anxiety and panic, scientists may also be able to determine better treatments for those who suffer from panic attacks. If certain neurotransmitters for instance are found to cause higher levels of panic, certain medications can be developed that block those neurotransmitters and help to decrease the chances of panic attacks in people who experience them often.

How Panic Attacks May Feel …

havingapanicattackDuring a typical panic attack, the sufferer may instantly feel an overwhelming sense of fear or imminent danger, even when no real danger is present. They may feel as if they are having a heart attack or dying from their fear. Some people may only experience a panic attack once in their lifetime while others may have them regularly. Once the initial reason for the panic attack has ended, the attack typically subsides. In some cases, people are plagued with recurrent attacks that can be very unexpected which often makes them afraid of subsequent attacks in the future.

Panic attacks can strike without any warning and can happen at any time, particularly in those who are prone to them. Symptoms typically reside after about 10 minutes but after an attack, the sufferer may feel overwhelmingly tired and depressed. People who experience frequent and recurring panic attacks may choose to avoid situations that could seem stressful or anything that reminds them of a past attack. Some may even avoid the outside world altogether for fear of having a panic attack.

“In extreme cases, panic attack sufferers stop leaving the house”

People with a history of many recurring panic attacks and who fear attacks in the future are typically diagnosed with panic disorder and may have difficulties in interacting with the outside world.

The symptoms of a panic attack include a rapid heart rate, often combined with chest pain. Some may also experience trembling, shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing as well as headache, dizziness and nausea. Most people suffering from panic attacks experience an impending feeling of danger or the fear of death.

It is still not known exactly what causes some to have panic attacks but not others. Most scientists do believe that a combination of genetic makeup, stress and changes in how the brain functions can cause severe panic attacks. These disorders are the most commonly reported mental disorders in the United States with more than 40 million people over the age of 18 affected. General anxiety disorders are commonly treatable but many choose not to seek treatment. Studies show that those who suffer from anxiety disorders are much more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders, mostly because they wait to receive treatment until their situation has worsened.

It Can Be Freightening

Panic attacks are not uncommon although they can be very frightening. While studies are still being done to see what exactly causes some people to be more prone to panic attacks, scientists believe that they are close in assuming that certain brain functions as well as genetics play key roles in the development of these attacks.

What people suffering from panic attacks need to know is that they are certainly not alone. Studies show that millions of people in the United States alone suffer from panic attacks. There are medications to help prevent future attacks and many programs that are designed to help reduce stress and to help the sufferer to live a less-anxious life. Programs are available for those who have recurrent attacks as well as those who have only had one panic attack in their lives. The programs are designed to help sufferers to better identify what may be indirectly causing their anxiety and to help them to learn to better control factors that could lead to an attack in the future.

Some medications have shown to be very effective in helping people to live their lives a bit less anxious although there are constant changes to medications and how they are developed. Scientists believe that in the future, medication will be available that will target the specific cause of the anxiety, making it much more effective for treating panic attacks and other anxiety disorders.