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Antidepressant Scripts Up 16 Million Over 3-Year Period

Psychiatrists wrote 29% of new orders, followed by GPs and primary care docs, survey finds

THURSDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Between 2002 and 2005, the number of prescriptions filled for antidepressant drugs increased from 154 million to 170 million, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. government.

The analysis, by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, of antidepressant prescriptions (not including refills) written after doctors talked with patients in-person or over the phone found that in 2005:

  • 29 percent of prescriptions were written by psychiatrists -- medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental disorders.
  • 23 percent came from general practitioners -- physicians who provide primary care but are specialty-trained.
  • 21 percent came from family practitioners -- primary care physicians who complete a residency in family medicine.
  • 10 percent came from internal medicine specialists -- physicians who complete a residency in internal medicine and who focus on the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of adults with illnesses that are difficult to diagnose or manage.

The data used in the summary are from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey of health services used by Americans.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about antidepressants.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, news release, July 24, 2008

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