Study: Americans get more antidepressants, less therapy

USAToday.com had this article: Number of Americans taking antidepressants doubles. (It’s mainly a summary of a study that’s in the Archives of General Psychiatry.) There are a lot of interesting numbers documented in this piece:

  • By 2005, 10%, or 27 million Americans were taking antidepressants.
  • About 80% of the patients were treated by doctors other than psychiatrists.
  • Half of those taking antidepressants were not being treated for depression.
  • During the study(1995-2005), spending on direct-to-consumer antidepressant ads increased from $32 million to $122 million.

The most concerning data to me was that “among users of antidepressants, the percentage receiving psychotherapy fell from 31.5% to less than 20%.” I can’t tell from the article if this has happened because more people are using antidepressants for issues unrelated to depression, but the article does state that the main reason why people aren’t seeking therapy is because of insurance issues.  In any case, other research has suggested that therapy is an integral part of a long-term treatment plan (This article in NYTimes, for instance, is about the effectiveness of long-term therapy in bipolar depression).  It’s sad to think that many aren’t getting the treatment that they know they need because of issues related to cost.

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