Are antidepressants being overprescribed?


E.C | Pharmacist

11/30/20222 min read

a person drowns underwater
a person drowns underwater

Rates of diagnosis of depression have increased steeply in the last 10 years. There is a belief that this health condition is being overdiagnosed, and mostly confused with simply short episodes of sadness. Hence, this is leading to overprescribing of antidepressants. Most patients have become dependent on them, using them for a long time and most are uniformed of the reverse symptoms that these medications can have if discontinued abruptly or incorrectly.

What are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are medications that are designed to alleviate the symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders. They work by altering the balance of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Antidepressants are generally considered safe and effective when used as prescribed, but they can also have side effects, and may not work for everyone.

The Rise of Antidepressant Prescriptions

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of antidepressant prescriptions being written. According to data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of Americans taking antidepressants increased by 64% between 1999 and 2014. This trend has led some experts to question whether antidepressants are being overprescribed.

The Case for Overprescription

Those who argue that antidepressants are overprescribed often cite several pieces of evidence. For example, they point out that many people are prescribed antidepressants without receiving a thorough evaluation of their symptoms. They also note that antidepressants are sometimes used as a first-line treatment, rather than being reserved for individuals with severe or treatment-resistant depression.

Another concern is that some people may be taking antidepressants for extended periods of time, even if they no longer need them. This can happen if individuals become dependent on the medication or if they are not provided with appropriate counselling or other forms of therapy.

On the other hand, there are those who argue that antidepressants are not being overprescribed. They point out that depression is a common and serious condition, and that antidepressants can be an effective treatment for many people. Additionally, they note that antidepressants are not typically addictive, and that there is no evidence to suggest that they are being prescribed unnecessarily.

Furthermore, some experts argue that the increase in antidepressant prescriptions is due to better recognition and treatment of depression. As awareness of mental health issues has increased, more people are seeking help, which could explain the rise in antidepressant use.

In conclusion, the issue of whether or not antidepressants are overprescribed is complex and multifaceted. While some evidence suggests that antidepressants are being prescribed more frequently than necessary, others argue that they are an effective treatment for a serious condition. Ultimately, the decision to use antidepressants should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the individual's symptoms, medical history, and preferences. Additionally, individuals taking antidepressants should be monitored closely to ensure that the medication is working as intended and that any side effects are managed appropriately.

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