Facebook Pixel

Women Continue to be the Biggest Users of Psychiatric Drugs: Editorial

Rate This

Despite the constant complaints and negative reports about psychiatric medications, current data indicate that at least 20 percent of Americans are on these drugs. Doctors have very little threshold for prescribing a variety of psychiatric medications for anxiety, depression, panic disorders or pain.

The latest study reveals that the major beneficiaries of these drugs are women. According to Medco Health solutions, there has been a 22 percent increase in prescriptions for psychiatric and behavioral medications in just the past decade.

The study reveals that nearly 26 percent of adult American women regularly take antidepressants, anti-anxiolytics, atypical antipsychotics and drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder. In contrast only 15 percent of men were prescribed such medications.

The highest use of these drugs was in women over the age of 45. In contrast the highest use of these drugs in men was in between the ages 20-44.

Other notable data from this study showed the highest prevalence of psychiatric medication use occurred in the South Central Region of the United States. The states with the highest use of psychiatric medications included Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. These states are also known as the “diabetes belt” and “stroke belt” because of the disproportionate distribution of these medical conditions.

The least amount of psychiatric drug use was in the East North Central Region that included Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan.

The most common psychiatric drugs used were the antidepressants, followed by anti-anxiety medications. In both categories, women were the most prolific users, compared to men. In every category of mental illnesses, there has been a significant rise in the prescription of psychiatric medications in just the past 10 years.

The study findings are based on a review of prescription drug claims from more than 2 million patients in the United States between 2001 and 2010.

In my opinion, there are multiple reasons for this trend but the major one is excessive physician-prescribing without offering alternative treatments. There is no doubt that some antipsychiatric drugs are helpful for certain mental health disorders. However, these drugs also possess disturbing side effects and are prohibitively expensive.

Another major issue that is frequently being raised is that some of the novel psychiatric drugs have not been carefully assessed. In some cases, the drug studies were conducted by doctors who were paid large sums of money by the pharmaceutical company. In such scenarios, it is doubtful that any physician will bite than hand that feeds it!


Medco Health Solutions "America's state of mind" 2011.
Abstract: http://www.medcohealth.com/medco/corporate/home.jsp

Use of Psych Drugs Up, Women Biggest Users. Published: November 17, 2011.
By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today. Web 27, Nov. 2011.

Cosgrove et al. Conflicts of interest and disclosure in the American Psychiatric Association ‘s clinical practice guidelines. Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19401623

Reviewed November 28, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.