Antidepressants Prescriptions On The Rise

Antidepressants, chances are you or someone you know has a prescription. Peter Wehrwein, a contributor to Harvard Health Publications, sheds light on a report released by National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) revealing the alarming increase in antidepressant use by Americans.  According to a report, the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008. The federal government’s health statisticians figure that about one in every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. health.harvard.edu .You might think that a report from 2008 is outdated. After all, it’s 2016, and we know a lot more about how to cope and manage depression. However, that’s not the case. A 2014 article published in Scientific American reveals that not only are doctors prescribing more antidepressants, they’re prescribing the medication to treat more than just depression.

 Researchers estimate that 8 to 10 percent of the population is taking an antidepressant. But this spike does not necessarily signify a depression epidemic. As the drugs’ patents expired, companies stopped funding studies for official approval. Yet doctors have continued to prescribe them for more ailments. Doctors commonly use antidepressants to treat many symptoms they’re not approved for. In fact, studies show that between 25 and 60 percent of prescribed antidepressants are actually used to treat non-psychological conditions.scientificamerican.com

The most common and well-supported off-label uses of SSRIs include:

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Antidepressant Medications: What You Should Ask Your Doctor

  • Primary care doctors tend to diagnose a patient with depression based on the very little information. If you tell your doctor you’re, tired, sad, have difficulty concentrating or sleeping, more than likely the doctor will prescribe an antidepressant. If your doctor suggests that you try an antidepressant medication, the first question to ask is, “What is the basis for your diagnosis of depression”? Don’t back down from asking a question.
  • Remember, a physician wouldn’t send you for a lung or breast biopsy without convincing evidence that there’s a problem. There are no blood tests for depression, however, and doctors diagnosis and prescribe pills with little evidence. Make sure your doctor can provide a good reason for giving you a diagnosis of a mental health problem before accepting the quick fix.
  • Physicians should tell you why they’re prescribing medication and the rationale for giving you any medication at all. Ask you doctor about the research literature on any prescription they give you. For example, “What percentage of research participants improved in studies conducted on the use of this medicine? “Also, ask your doctor how many of his or her patients improve with any particular medication alone, and how often your doctor needs to change medications and dosages before finding one that helps. If the physician can’t you the answers, you might consider alternatives to the drug.
  • Pharmaceutical companies report common side effects of labeling of their products. However, there are often individual case reports that don’t appear on labels. Ask your doctor if any of his or her patients has reported side effects participants in the study didn’t mention. Your doctor might tell you that the drugs he or she is prescribing aren’t dangerous. Make it clear that you’re not asking out of fear but that you want to make an informed decision about what you put in your body and the side effects you are willing to experience for the sake of trying a pill that may improve your mood.
  •  The most important question anyone can ask a doctor before taking medication is, “Are there alternative treatments that I should try first”? Your doctor should know the literature that compares drug therapies for depression to cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. If he or she does not, perhaps he or she shouldn’t prescribe medication for psychological problems, and it might be time to make a proper referral to a behavioral health specialist.

 

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