Depression Rising, but Psychotherapy Declines

More Americans than ever are receiving treatment for depression, but the number getting psychotherapy with or without drugs continues to decline, a national survey finds.

Depression treatment rates increased dramatically during the 1990s with the introduction of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants Paxil, Prozac, and  Zoloft.

Other SSRIs, including Celexa, Lexapro, and Luvox soon followed, as did newer classes of antidepressants represented by drugs like CymbaltaEffexor, andWellbutrin.

Despite all the new drug choices, the use of antidepressants increased only modestly during the last decade — from about 74% of patients treated in 1998 to 75% in 2007, the survey revealed.

But there was a dramatic decline in the number of treated patients who received psychotherapy.

In 1998, almost 54% of patients being treated for depression had some form of psychotherapy, compared to 43% in 2007.

Columbia University psychiatry professor Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, who was a co-author of the survey, says the decline in psychotherapy was disproportionately high among medically underserved populations including Hispanics and the poor.

“While it is good news that depression treatment seems to be more accessible, the decline in psychotherapy raises the possibility that many patients aren’t receiving optimal care,” Olfson tells WebMD.

Read the full article at WebMD.