According to a government study, antidepressants have become the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. They’re prescribed more than drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, or headaches. CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen discusses the CDC study on antidepressants
In its study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals in 2005. Of those, 118 million were for antidepressants.
High blood pressure drugs were the next most-common with 113 million prescriptions.
The use of antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs — those that affect brain chemistry — has skyrocketed over the last decade.
Adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between the periods 1988-1994 and 1999-2000.
Between 1995 and 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the use of these drugs rose 48 percent, the CDC reported.
Dr. Robert Goodman, an internist in New York City, says the real force behind skyrocketing antidepressant prescription rates is pharmaceutical marketing to doctors and to consumers. “You put those two together and you get a lot of prescriptions for antidepressants,” he said.
He questions whether all those prescriptions are necessary. “It’s hard to believe that number of people are depressed, or that antidepressants are the answer,” he said.
Goodman is the founder of a group called “No Free Lunch,” a group that encourages doctors to reject gifts from pharmaceutical companies. He added that patients sometimes see ads for antidepressants on television and ask doctors for the drugs — and that studies show these requests work.