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.

New Treatment Methods For Conquering Phobias

Phobias are a form of anxiety disorder. They are an irrational and relatively strong fear that something poses a risk when in reality; it poses very little danger if any at all. There are a number of phobias and millions of people have them.

Those who have phobias attempt to avoid the very thing that scares them. If they are confronted with their fear, they may experience a rapid heartbeat, trembling, shortness of breath, panic and many may simply attempt to get away from the thing that is causing their fear. Many researchers suggest that phobias may be genetic.

“Phobias usually start in children or teens, and continue into adulthood. The causes of specific phobias are known, but they sometimes run in families”

phobiaproblemFear is generally a normal response to danger. In those who have phobias however, this fear is often completely irrational and in some patients, very excessive. Thesymptoms of phobias vary from patient to patient but typically include a recognition that the experienced fear is beyond normal boundaries. Most people with phobias generally feel that they are in extreme danger and will take every step possible to avoid that danger at all costs.

While there are many medications that are prescribed for the treatment of phobias, some patients respond well to alternative treatments.

“If you suffer from mild phobias try to reduce anxiety through relaxation exercises or yoga and meditation”

Avoiding caffeine, exercising regularly and various relaxation techniques can help to calm a patient who is suffering from phobias. Counseling is also available through many medical centers and has been shown to be very effective for some phobias.

According to Dr. Jesse Wright, psychiatrist at the University of Louisville Physicians, overcoming phobias means meeting fears head-on. Dr. Wright believes that the best way to treat a phobia is to completely overcome it. This means no medication. Treatment is simply done through repeated confrontation with the fear. For someone who has a phobia about flying for instance, getting on an airplane and taking even a short flight will help them to overcome their fear.

“To really overcome it, you have to look the fear in the eye and say OK, this is nothing, really, that I need to be afraid of”

Wright believes that patients will respond much better to scenarios where they are confronted by their fears as opposed to avoiding situations where those fears may come to light. Therapists cannot go with their patients however at all times and ensure that they are conquering their fears. This is where Wright’s program Virtually Better comes in. The computer based program allows patients to experience their fears without actually living them out. It can for instance, simulate an airport terminal, getting on an airplane and even taking off. Many patients have found that this form of therapy is very effective in helping them to overcome their phobias and live a more normal life although research is still being done as to the complete effectiveness of a simulated situation.