Proportion of Antidepressants Prescribed Without a Psychiatric Diagnosis is Growing

Over the past two decades, the use of antidepressant medications has grown to the point that they are now the third most commonly prescribed class of medications in the United States. Much of this growth has been driven by a substantial increase in antidepressant prescriptions by non-psychiatrist providers without an accompanying psychiatric diagnosis. Between 1996 and 2007, the proportion of visits at which antidepressants were prescribed but no psychiatric diagnoses were noted increased from 59.5 percent to 72.7 percent. These results do not clearly indicate a rise in inappropriate antidepressant use, but they highlight the need to gain a deeper understanding of the factors driving this national trend and to develop effective policy responses. (Source: Health Affairs, Vol. 30, No. 8, August 2011)