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.