Monday, May 11, 2009

Antidepressants: The right people aren't always getting them

The medications are widely used to treat complaints such as loneliness or low energy. Meanwhile, studies say many with depression go untreated.

It was just over 20 years ago that the antidepressant Prozac was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The medication was touted as nothing short of a miracle: Not only was it was highly effective in treating depression, it also caused very few side effects.

The drug's popularity grew rapidly, and pharmaceutical companies got busy developing a variety of other, chemically similar antidepressants, collectively referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs). There are at least half a dozen SSRIs on the market, including Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Luvox.

Since the introduction of these drugs, the number of Americans being treated for depression has increased dramatically; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medication in the country. But it's not always the right people taking them. Some who probably have very little to gain from their use are on SSRIs; others who stand to benefit are not.


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