Why are antidepressants prescribed more often than anti-depressants?
The drugs prescribed by the US Veterans Administration and VA are prescribed more frequently to those with depression than they are to those without it, according to a study that found prescriptions were made by doctors on the orders of politicians and not patients.
Researchers analysed prescription data from the Veterans Health Administration (VA) and the Veterans Administration Health Care System (VAHCS) and found the rate of prescriptions made by physicians was three times higher than for those with other disorders, including depression.
“I don’t know of any other health care system that can say that its doing what its supposed to do, that its making sure its helping its patients,” Dr Mark Mascarenhas, director of VAHCS’ Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Research, told ABC News.
He added that prescribing rates were up more than 400 percent between 2002 and 2012.
“[The VA] has been doing it for a long time, but now, I think, its really become the standard,” he said.
Dr Mascares study found that the VA is the only health care provider in the US to make a prescription to treat depression.
“This is really unprecedented,” he told ABC news.
“The VA’s not just prescribing these drugs, but it’s prescribing them on an almost daily basis.”
Dr Mescares study looked at prescriptions made from March to November of 2013 to determine how much was made by the VA and whether it was made for patients with depression or other conditions.
He found that out of every 1,000 prescriptions made, there were nearly 4,000 for depression.
Dr Robert C. McWilliams, director and co-author of the study, told the ABC News programme “Dr Phil” that the study found the VA was prescribing antidepressant medications to people with depression.”[The] number one concern I have, and I think I’ve heard from people who have been there, is that people with mental health issues are prescribed these medications because they are so often prescribed to them,” he explained.
“If we look at it as a service that needs to be there for the people, then we need to be providing that care.”
“It’s really important that we do not overdo it,” he added.
The VA said the findings were the first of its kind and said it had no data to suggest the agency was prescribing antidepressants to anyone for other mental health conditions.
Dr McWilliams said he would be surprised if the research was replicated, but said the agency needed to get the research right.
“It may be that [the VA] is using this as a case study,” he advised.
Dr C. David Miller, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, told CNN the study was troubling because it suggested the VA may be overprescribing antidepressants.
“I think it raises a question that we have not even really addressed before.
The VA is under-prescribe antidepressants,” he noted.”
And it raises some serious questions about how we as a society are going to deal with the massive increase in depression rates that we’ve seen in recent years.”