The results of a new study have found that one in six US adults takes a psychiatric drug to treat the symptoms of a condition like anxiety, depression or insomnia. Researchers found that close to 17 percent of adults reported they had filled at least one prescription for an antidepressant like Celexa or Prozac, sedatives such as Ambien and Xanax, or antipsychotic medications used to treat schizophrenia.
The study co-author, Thomas Moore, a senior scientist for drug safety and policy at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, remarked that from a safety perspective, these medications can present problems for patients. He said that many of them have withdrawal effects when someone tries to stop using them after being on them for some time. He also said that some of the overwhelming long term use “may reflect drug dependence.”
Most of the prescriptions for these types of medications are being written by primary care physicians. Patients are not being seen by psychiatrists to get their medication needs assessed. The patients may not be getting the precise mental health care they need, according to one specialist.
Moore worked with a colleague from Risk Sciences International in Ottawa, Canada. They used figures from the 2013 US Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to calculate the percentages of adults who were using various types of psychiatric drugs, such as prescription antidepressants, sedatives, anti-anxiety medications, sleep aids and antipsychotics.
The results indicated that of the one in six people who reported using drugs in these classes.
– 12 percent had taken an antidepressant
– 8 percent filled a prescription for a sedative, anti-anxiety medication or a sleep aid
– 2 percent had taken antipsychotic drugs
The majority of the medications (80 percent) were for long-term use. This meant three or more prescriptions were filled in 2013 (the year the statistics were gathered) or the patients were continuing a prescription started in 2011 or earlier. The study results were published in the December 12 online edition of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Drug use increased with age. One-quarter of the respondents in the 60-85 age group reported taking medications, compared with only nine percent of people aged 18-39. Women are also more likely to be taking psychiatric drugs than men, possibly because they are more likely to seek treatment than men.
At Intervention Services, we have seen countless people throughout the country who are equally dependent on medications such as these as they are on street drugs. If you have a loved one in need of help getting off their medications, contact us for more information and to find appropriate medical treatment.