Among antidepressant users, the percentage who were also prescribed antipsychotic medications increased between 1996 and 2005 (5.46 percent vs. 8.86 percent), but fewer also underwent psychotherapy (31.5 percent vs. 19.87 percent). “Together with an increase in the number of antidepressant prescriptions per antidepressant user [an average of 5.6 vs. 6.93 per year], these broad trends suggest that antidepressant treatment is occurring within a clinical context that places greater emphasis on pharmacologic rather than psychologic dimensions of care,” the authors write.
Beyond the general expansion of mental health treatment, several factors may have contributed to the overall increase in prescriptions, they note. First, major depression may have become more common. Several new antidepressants were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat depression and anxiety disorders during the study period. In addition, clinical guidelines were published that supported the use of these medications for a variety of conditions.(Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66:848-856.