ShareThis Page
Home

Use of antidepressants doubles

| Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009

The number of Americans using antidepressants doubled in only a decade, while the number seeing psychiatrists continued to fall, a study shows.

About 10 percent of Americans -- or 27 million people -- were taking antidepressants in 2005, the last year for which data were available at the time the study was written. That's about twice the number in 1996, according to the study of nearly 50,000 children and adults in today's Archives of General Psychiatry. Yet the majority weren't being treated for depression. Half of those taking antidepressants used them for back pain, nerve pain, fatigue, sleep difficulties or other problems, the study says.

Among users of antidepressants, the percentage receiving psychotherapy fell from 31.5 percent to less than 20 percent, the study says. About 80 percent of patients were treated by doctors other than psychiatrists.

Patients today may be more likely to ask about antidepressant advertising, says study author Mark Olfson of Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. During the study, spending on direct-to-consumer antidepressant ads increased from $32 million to $122 million.

Doctors today also are more comfortable prescribing antidepressants, partly because the newer drugs are safer and cause fewer serious side effects, says James Potash of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, who wasn't involved in the study.

David Spiegel of Stanford University School of Medicine says he's glad to see more people getting treatment for depression, which causes more disability than any other condition.

But Olfson says his study shows that doctors need more training in mental health. And he says he's concerned about the decline in patients receiving psychotherapy. Patients who receive only medication may not get the help they need, he says.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me