Researchers found that by 2013 nearly 17 percent of adults said they had been given one or more antidepressant prescriptions, such as Zoloft, sedatives and sleeping pills, including Xanax and Ambien, or anti-psychotics used to treat schizophrenia And bipolar disorder.
“From the point of view of drug safety, I am concerned that many of these drugs will have withdrawal effects and that some of the overwhelming use over the long term could indicate drug dependence,” said study co-author Thomas Moore.
“These issues require more research,” added Moore, senior scientist for drug safety and policy at the Institute of Safe Drug Practices in Alexandria, Va.
Since most of the prescriptions for these drugs are issued by primary care physicians, not by psychiatrists, patients are not getting the mental health care they need, according to a specialist.
“The use of psychotropic drugs has become an increasingly worrisome problem in the US due to the lack of clarity of the medical purpose of some psychotropic treatments and the rising costs of medical care,” he said. Dr. Shawna Newman, a psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
“The overwhelming preponderance of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs are issued by doctors who are not psychiatrists,” he said. He noted that a 2014 study conducted by the US National Institutes of Health UU. Revealed that benzodiazepines (medicines like Xanax, Ativam and Valium) were prescribed mainly by doctors who were not psychiatrists.
“Access to psychiatrists and proper mental health treatment is a vital problem in American medical care,” Newman said.
Moore and a collaborator of Risk Sciences International in Ottawa, Canada, used the US Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys. UU. Of 2013 to calculate the percentages of adults taking antidepressants, anxiolytics, sedatives, sleeping pills and prescription anti-psychotics.In the group of 1 in 6 people who reported using these drugs, 12 percent said they had taken an antidepressant, and 8 percent reported having been prescribed an anxiolytic, sedative or sleeping pill. Nearly 2 percent had taken anti-psychotics, the researchers found.
Whites were about twice as likely to take these medications (21 percent) as black and Hispanic adults. Only 5 percent of Asians said they had taken them, according to the study. The researchers said they could not explain why whites are much more likely to use these drugs.
Of all adults taking these medications, 8 out of 10 reported long-term use, meaning they had 3 or more prescriptions in 2013 or followed a prescription that began in 2011 or earlier.
In addition, the use of these drugs increased with age: a fourth of people between 60 and 85 years of age allegedly took them, compared to 9 percent of those between 18 and 39 years. Women were also more likely to report using psychiatric medications than men. Among the 10 main psychiatric drugs, there were 6 antidepressants: Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Desyrel (trazodone), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Cymbalta (duloxetine).
Among the 10 most used were also the anxiolytics Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam) and Ambien (zolpidem), according to the study. The results are published online Dec. 12 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
These estimates of use could be low, said the authors of the study, because the same users reported the recipes, leaving the door open to memory errors or distortion.But a psychiatrist believes that more Americans are likely to need these drugs.
“Given what is known about the fact that the rate of psychiatric disorders in adulthood is about 25 percent of the population in any 12-month period, this rate reflects that many individuals who meet the criteria for psychiatric disorders do not Are being treated with psychiatric medications, “said Dr. Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York.
Several reasons could explain this disparity, including resistance to treatment, lack of access to mental health care or fear of stigma, he said.
“Greater education about the proper use of psychiatric medications for all primary care and mental health physicians who emit prescriptions should be required in order to optimize appropriate prescribing practices,” Fornari said.
Primary care physicians can also help by including routine mental health assessments in annual reviews, Fornari said.