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Antidepressants

Hooked on SSRIs: Antidepressant Use Doubles in U.S.

Thursday, June 17, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: antidepressants, SSRI, health news


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(NaturalNews) Antidepressant use more than doubled in the United States between 1996 and 2005, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Columbia and University of Pennsylvania and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

"Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all sociodemographic groups examined, except African Americans," the researchers wrote. "Not only are more U.S. residents being treated with antidepressants, but also those who are being treated are receiving more antidepressant prescriptions."

The number of people being treated with antidepressants increased from 13 million in 1996 to 27 million in 2005, rising from 6 percent to 10 percent of the population. More than 164 million antidepressant prescriptions were given out in 2008, generating $9.8 billion for pharmaceutical companies.

Not only selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac have seen rises in use, but also other varieties of antidepressant and psychoactive drugs.

"During this period, individuals treated with antidepressants became more likely to also receive treatment with antipsychotic medications and less likely to undergo psychotherapy," the researchers wrote.

The researchers speculated that the high out-of-pocket cost of therapy combined with a decreasing stigma on the use of psychotropic drugs have contributed to the increasing popularity of psychiatric drugs. They also noted that while promotional spending on antidepressants held relatively steady between 1999 and 2005, the percentage that was devoted to direct-to-consumer marketing increased from 3.3 percent to 12 percent.

Eric Caine of the University of Rochester, who was not involved in the study, expressed concern that people are placing too much faith in psychiatric drugs.

"Antidepressants are only moderately effective on population level," he said, and therapy has been proven at least as effective, if not more so. He also noted that there has been no increase in mental health corresponding to increasing use of psychiatric drugs.

"There are no data to say that the population is healthier," he said. "Indeed, the suicide rate in the middle years of life has been climbing."

Antidepressants carry a risk of potentially serious side effects, including suicide.

Sources for this story include: www.alertnet.org.

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