When someone hears about antidepressants, that person thinks that they are prescribed for depression, but the latest study has shown that almost half of them are taken for another purpose. It was discovered that not only in Canada but also in the U.S. this problem is widespread.
A group of researchers from the McGill University established that around 45 percent of antidepressants prescribed by PCP (primary care physicians) and not psychiatrists in the Quebec area did not aim to treat depression. Instead, they were prescribed for a variety of off-label and approved uses, like hyperactivity issues, attention deficit, menopausal symptoms, migraines, insomnia and digestive problems.
During the study, scientists analyzed more than 100,000 prescriptions for antidepressants for approximately 20,000 patients. The prescriptions were written by 158 physicians starting from January 2006 until September 2015. Plus, an electronic medical records database was used by all the doctors.
After reviewing 101,759 prescriptions for antidepressants, researchers learned that 18.5 percent of them cited anxiety disorders as the indication, and 55 percent cited depressive disorders. On most of the remainder were noted things like pain, 6 percent; insomnia, 10 percent; and panic disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive, migraines and fibromyalgia with 4 percent.
There were also registered small numbers of digestive and urinary system disorders, nicotine dependence and sexual dysfunction as the reason for medication. Plus, scientists also found an increase in the usage of non-depression medication during the last decade. Worse, statistics have shown that PCPs have usually prescribed antidepressant without any diagnosis related to depression.
According to another study, throughout a period of 12 years, 56 percent of antidepressant prescriptions written by other doctors, not psychiatrists, had no connection with anxiety issues or depression symptoms.
However, the study did not check the prescriptions written by psychiatrists because researchers assumed that psychiatrists would know better than other doctors what is the proper medication. According to Jenna Wong, lead author, and Ph.D. student in occupational health, biostatistics, and epidemiology, the antidepressant Trazodone is usually prescribed in cases of insomnia, even if there is almost no proof that it would treat this sleep disorder.
This is a problem that has spread in the entire world with Australia, Iceland, and Canada as the top three highest antidepressant users, according to a 2013 study. Plus, in the U.S. antidepressants are the third- most prescribed medication taken by over 10 percent of adults, and the number has increased during the past two decades.
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