Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Are antidepressants overused?

Date:
January 22, 2013
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Antidepressant prescriptions in the UK have increased by 9.6 percent in 2011, to 46 million prescriptions. Does this reflect overmedicalisation or appropriate treatment? Two experts debate the issue.

Antidepressant prescriptions in the UK have increased by 9.6% in 2011, to 46 million prescriptions. Does this reflect overmedicalisation or appropriate treatment? Two experts debate the issue on bmj.com today.

Related Articles


Glasgow GP, Dr Des Spence, thinks that "we use antidepressants too easily, for too long, and that they are effective for few people (if at all)"

He acknowledges that depression is an important illness, but argues that the current definition of clinical depression (two weeks of low mood -- even after bereavement) "is too loose and is causing widespread medicalisation." He also points out that 75% of those who write these definitions have links to drug companies.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines do not support the use of antidepressant medication in mild depression, nor necessarily as first line treatment of moderate depression. Instead, they promote talking therapies.

"But even if we accept that antidepressants are effective, a Cochrane review suggests that only one in seven people actually benefits. Thus millions of people are enduring at least six months of ineffective treatment," he writes.

He is unconvinced by research showing that depression is undertreated and that antidepressants are being used appropriately, saying "the only explanation is that we are prescribing more antidepressants to ever more people."

He also questions the view that depression is a mere chemical imbalance and concludes: "Improving society's wellbeing is not in the gift of medicine nor mere medication, and overprescribing of antidepressants serves as a distraction from a wider debate about why we are so unhappy as a society. We are doing harm."

But Ian Reid, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen, says the claim that antidepressants are overprescribed "needs careful consideration."

He argues that the rise in prescriptions is due to small but appropriate increases in the duration of treatment, rather than more patients being treated, and that increased use of antidepressants in other conditions "has compounded misunderstanding."

He refutes the idea that GPs are handing out antidepressants "like sweeties" and points to a survey showing "cautious and conservative prescribing" among GPs in Grampian. He also points to "methodological flaws and selective reporting" of data showing that antidepressants are no better than placebo except in severe depression. Instead, he says, practice is supported by evidence.

Finally, he dismisses reports that limited availability of psychological therapy leads to inappropriate antidepressant prescription, saying there is no consistent relation between the availability of psychological therapies and antidepressant use.

"Antidepressants are but one element available in the treatment of depression, not a panacea," he writes. "Like 'talking treatments' (with which antidepressants are entirely compatible), they can have harmful side effects, and they certainly don't help everyone with the disorder. But they are not overprescribed. Careless reportage has demonised them in the public eye, adding to the stigmatisation of mental illness, and erecting unnecessary barriers to effective care."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. D. Spence. Are antidepressants overprescribed? Yes. BMJ, 2013; 346 (jan22 3): f191 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f191
  2. I. C. Reid. Are antidepressants overprescribed? No. BMJ, 2013; 346 (jan22 3): f190 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f190

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Are antidepressants overused?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122191404.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2013, January 22). Are antidepressants overused?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122191404.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Are antidepressants overused?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122191404.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

BuzzFeed (Jan. 28, 2015) "No, I&apos;m not mad. Why, are you mad?" Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins