Treatment of Depression More Than Triples in the US Over the

By Dr. Matthew Watson

Treatment of Depression More Than Triples in the US Over the Last 10 Years

Among people receiving treatment for depression in the US, the percentage of those on antidepressant medication has risen dramatically, while fewer are opting for time on the couch in psychotherapy.

The number of Americans treated for depression soared from 1.7 million to 6.3 million between 1987 and 1997, and the proportion of those receiving antidepressants doubled.

The researchers attributed the sharp increases to the emergence of aggressively marketed new drugs like Prozac, the rise in managed care and an easing of the stigma attached to the disease.

The study found that the share of patients who used antidepressant medication climbed from 37% to nearly 75%. At the same time, the proportion who received psychotherapy declined from 71% to 60%.

The publicizing of newer antidepressants that have fewer side effects - such as Prozac, which was introduced in late 1987 - has helped make patients more willing to seek treatment, the researchers said. This publicity has included pharmaceutical industry efforts to market the drugs directly to consumers and public-awareness campaigns about depression. Read more...

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