(4/3/2015) More than two thirds of people taking antidepressants ‘may NOT actually have depression’: Doctors discover many do not meet the official criteria

Prescriptions for anti-depressants have more than trebled since 1998 in the world’s richest countries, a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found.
The research noted a particular rise in in the use of SSRIs like Prozac and Seroxat. The OECD figures showed Iceland to have the highest prescribing rate, at 106 doses a day for every 1,000 inhabitants in 2011, up from 71 a decade earlier.

Behind Iceland is Australia, then Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Portugal. The lowest levels were seen in Chile and South Korea. Separate data from the US shows 11 per cent of Americans over 12-years-old use anti-depressants…

Doctors commonly use antidepressants to treat many maladies they are not approved for. In fact, studies show that between 25 and 60 percent of prescribed antidepressants are actually used to treat nonpsychological conditions. The most common and well-supported off-label uses of SSRIs include…

(9/1/2014) Are Antidepressants Really “Over-Prescribed” in the US?

As psychiatrists, we often hear the claim that antidepressants are “over-prescribed,” or that there is an “epidemic” of antidepressant use in this country. Typically, this claim comes from psychiatry’s vociferous critics—but in many cases, it is voiced by psychiatrists themselves. So… have we really become a kind of Prozac Nation, to reference the title of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s 1994 memoir?

By and large, I don’t think so. In many respects, the claim that “too many Americans are taking antidepressants” is a myth. A myth, of course, is not a lie or falsehood—it is a narrative that often contains a kernel of truth, but which is wrong in important respects…

To be sure: in some primary care settings, antidepressants are prescribed too casually; after too little evaluation time; and for instances of normal stress or everyday sadness, rather than for MDD. And, in my experience, antidepressants are vastly over-prescribed for patients with bipolar disorder, where these drugs often do more harm than good: mood stabilizers, such as lithium, are safer and more effective in bipolar disorder. But these kernels of truth are concealed within a very large pile of chaff.

For example, the media often report that antidepressant use in the United States has “gone up by 400%” in recent years—and that’s probably true. Specifically, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that from 1988-1994 through 2005-2008, the rate of antidepressant use in the United States among persons of all ages increased by nearly 400%. But the actual percentage of Americans 12 years or older taking antidepressants is about 11%—a large proportion of the population, for sure, but not exactly Prozac Nation. Furthermore, recent increases in antidepressant prescribing probably reflect new but legitimate uses of these medications for non-depressive conditions, such as neuropathic pain, PTSD, and panic disorder—for which several antidepressants have FDA-approved indications…

There has been a good deal of misinformation in the general media regarding the efficacy of antidepressants. The best available evidence supports the conclusion that compared with placebo, antidepressants are effective in the acute treatment of moderate to severe major depression. Their efficacy probably decreases (vs placebo) as we move toward milder cases of MDD—and, to be clear, antidepressants are neither necessary nor appropriate for instances of ordinary grief or every-day sadness. We also know that for some patients, antidepressants have potentially serious adverse effects and should be prescribed only with the patient’s fully informed consent…

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