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One in five American adults takes psychiatric drugs

David W. Hodges
Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
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SSRIs and prescription errorsNew report shows 22% increase in adults taking psychiatric prescriptions to treat depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder.

According to a report issued Wednesday by Medco Health, Inc., one in five American adults now takes some form of psychiatric drug. The drugs include powerful ADHD medications, medications for depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia.

This is a 22% increase from 2001 to 2010. Anti-depressants, ADHD drugs and other psychiatric medications are the most widely prescribed drugs in the country, and there is some controversy surrounding this. There was a decline in the use of these drugs in children and the elderly, in part because of the FDA's black box warning, its most serious warning, that use of these drugs in teens, children, and the elderly can lead to higher rates of suicide because in those age groups it can actually worsen depression.

Are these drugs overprescribed?
It is hard to tell if the drugs are overprescribed, but many of these drugs do have other uses that are not listed on the labels. For example, some anti-anxiety medications help patients with vertigo, and many anti-depressants help chronic pain, such as that found in diabetic neuropathy or nerve pain due to back injuries. All patients taking these drugs need to be watchful for side effects and symptoms not mentioned at the doctor's office or at the pharmacy.

A recent Archives of Psychiatry paper found that in 2001 only 10 percent of the population took anti-depressants, but in 2010, 10 percent of adult men used these powerful drugs, and 21 percent of adult women used them. The disturbing trend of rising use of psychiatric drugs means that more dangerous medication errors can occur and cause dangerous and possibly life threatening problems.

The risks of preventable prescription errors.
People using these medications are exposed to sometimes dangerous side effects. The rising use of psychiatric drugs means that the risk of pharmacy error increases with every pill bottle you fill at the pharmacy. People are unaware of the scary statistics of pharmacy error injury and the truth is we are all at risk. You can order our free book to protect yourself and your loved ones against prescription errors.

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