Reuters HealthDay reported on July 24, 2008 on a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality which found that the prescription of antidepressant drugs has increased significantly over a 3 year period from 2002 - 2005 and less than a third of the antidepressant prescriptions are prescribed by psychiatrists with the great majority prescribed by primary care physicians.
It is interesting that most of the antidepressant medications are not precribed by mental health professionals which leads to the assumption that most depression is being treated without psychotherapy. Most outcome research seems to indicate that depression is better treated by psychotherapy or a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication.
Here is a snippet from the HealthDay article:
Between 2002 and 2005, the number of prescriptions filled for antidepressant drugs increased from 154 million to 170 million, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. government.
The analysis, by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, of antidepressant prescriptions (not including refills) written after doctors talked with patients in-person or over the phone found that in 2005:
- 29 percent of prescriptions were written by psychiatrists -- medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental disorders.
- 23 percent came from general practitioners -- physicians who provide primary care but are specialty-trained.
- 21 percent came from family practitioners -- primary care physicians who complete a residency in family medicine.
- 10 percent came from internal medicine specialists -- physicians who complete a residency in internal medicine and who focus on the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of adults with illnesses that are difficult to diagnose or manage.
The data used in the summary are from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey of health services used by Americans.