More patient care providers are prescribing antidepressants for symptoms, including headaches, menstrual cramps, and fatigue, as reported in “American Medical News.”
The study, which was featured in this month’s “Health Affairs,” found that “it is becoming more common for primary care doctors and other non-psychiatrist physicians to prescribe antidepressants for conditions other than anxiety and major depressive disorder; between 1996 and 2007, the proportion of patient visits in which antidepressants were prescribed but no psychiatric diagnoses were noted increased from 59.5% to 72.7%.”
Authors of the study made note of some limitations to their data. In the limitations, included “not accounting for visits in which physicians refilled antidepressant prescriptions for patients whose mental illness was well-managed.”
Another commonality among people seeking physician services, according to “American Medical News,” is those asking primary care physicians for antidepressants as well as other drugs normally prescribed by psychiatrists.
Healthcare experts noted that this is likely due to a lack of mental health professionals, contributing to the overall physician shortage.
“In some ways, [prescribing an antidepressant] is the easiest thing to do,” said Dr. David M. Reiss, a San Diego-based psychiatrist. “It’s not that physicians aren’t trying to do a good job, but the [medication] is an easy way to give someone relief.”