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Anti-depressants Prescribed Without Diagnosis

susan_harr5 years ago

“Over the past two decades, the use of antidepressant medications has grown to the point that they are now the third most commonly prescribed class of medications in the United States,” Health Affairs.

Two recent studies indicate more and more Americans are obtaining prescriptions for anti-depressants without a psychiatric diagnosis for clinical depression. The studies, published in Health Affairs and the Journal of Clinical Psychology, find a substantial number of individuals are being prescribed anti-depressant medication from family doctors and physicians without actually being diagnosed with a disorder these medications are meant to treat. For example, they may be prescribed an anti-depressant after a traumatic event, whereas medication is meant to be prescribed for patients with diagnosed lifelong depression. Health officials are wary of this practice because this means million of Americans are being exposed to the side-effects of these medications, without the proven health benefits.

Possible Side Effects from Anti-Depressants

List below provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Nausea
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual side effects
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety

Findings from Health Affairs

  • The use of antidepressant medication has grown significantly in the last 20 years.
  • Much of this growth can be explained by the substantial increase in anti-depressant prescriptions by non-psychiatrist providers without an accompanying psychiatric diagnosis.
  • Between 1996 and 2007, the number of doctor visits at which anti-depressants were prescribed but no psychiatric diagnoses were given increased from 59.5% to 72.7%.

Findings from Journal of Clinical Psychology

  • Among 1,441 individuals surveyed, who took an anti-depressant in the past year, 396 (26.3%) did not meet criteria for any lifetime diagnosis assessed.
  • Individuals taking anti-depressants in the absence of a DSM-IV disorder were more likely to have been prescribed these medications by family physicians or other doctors compared to psychiatrists.
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