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Antidepressant Use in U.S. Has Almost Doubled
Date:8/3/2009

he same time, those receiving antipsychotic medications increased from 5.46 percent to 8.86 percent, and the proportion of people using psychotherapy dropped from 31.5 percent to 19.87 percent.

"The reasons [for the growth] are unclear but they may include the introduction of new antidepressants over the last 10 to 12 years or so and a broadening in the clinical indications of antidepressant treatment. Years ago, these drugs were largely focused on depression. Today, more different conditions are treated with antidepressants," Olfson said. "There's also been an increase in direct-to-consumer advertising and a lessening of the stigma associated with seeking mental health care."

Indeed, a study released last week found that roughly five of six Americans now have a positive opinion on psychiatric medications, a marked increase from about a decade ago.

Depression may also be more common in the population, or at least more people may be acknowledging it and seeking help, the authors suggested.

"It is encouraging that there is apparently an increased awareness and increased willingness to seek assistance for emotional distress . . . and that is a big step forward," said Dr. Kathryn J. Kotrla, chairwoman and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

"I think part of the increased rate is increased awareness, as well as national depression screening all over the country," added Dr. M. Beatriz Currier, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "Education and screening decrease stigma."

Of concern, however, was the finding that the majority of Americans taking antidepressants were not receiving care from a psychiatrist.

Also troubling was not knowing what the prescriptions were being written for exactly.

"One wonders if the medication is being used as a possible pan
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