A new report in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shows that 69% of people taking anti-depressant drugs do not meet the criteria for the medication. Dr. Steve Wengel is the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and he says that doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem of over prescribing the meds.
Dr. Wengel says, “One study showed about 80% were prescribed not by psychiatrists so, primary care physicians, sometimes nurse practitioners or PA’s. But, when a psychiatrist sees a new patient in their office for depression, we take at least 60 minutes, sometimes 90 minutes, to get to know them, get their history and try to tease apart all their symptoms. A busy primary care physician, family physician, internist doesn’t have that kind of time so they are trying to do the best they can with the resources they have.”
Dr. Wengel says these medications are not addictive and the consequences of missing a diagnosis of depression and not treating it can have serious consequences. He says there are also studies that show counseling or talk therapy with a good provider is just as effective as medication for those with mild to moderate depression. However, Dr. Wengel says few people have the time to commit to weekly appointments. He says those with severe depression typically require medication.