Antidepressant use has increased sharply over the last ten years

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According to a study recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, psychotherapy has decreased and antidepressant use has increased sharply over the last ten years. The study found that from 1996 to 2005 the number of American’s using antidepressants went from 13.3 million to 27 million. Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, of Columbia University in New York City, and Steven C. Marcus, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, authors of the study, relayed more specifically individuals in the United States taking antidepressants almost doubled, from 5.84% (95% CI 5.47% to 6.23%) in 1996 to 10.12% (95% CI 9.58% to 10.69%) in 2005. “These trends vividly illustrate the extent to which antidepressant treatment has gained acceptance in the U.S. and the growing emphasis on pharmacologic rather than psychological aspects of care,” Olfson and Marcus wrote.

Upon casual observation, it would appear that other possibilities are present. Perhaps those taking antidepressants are not as likely to seek psychotherapy with the same frequency as those not taking antidepressants due to a decrease in symptoms. Another observation: It seems that the promotion of antidepressants by major pharmaceutical companies is something that has emerged in greater frequency during the last ten years. The targeting of middle-class, blue-collar workers with insurance who can “ask their doctor about xyz drug” is big business. So then, it could be, in part, due to the success of increased marketing of antidepressant drugs. Click here to read an article from Medpage Today that discusses the study more.

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