More Than Two-Thirds of Antidepressants Prescribed Against Guidelines


Results of a new study reveal that sixty-nine percent, or more than two-thirds, of patients prescribed antidepressant drugs have never, in their medical history, met the criteria for major depression. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry this month, also found that several demographic factors, like race and gender, were associated with the prescription of antidepressants.

“Many individuals who are prescribed and use antidepressant medications may not have met criteria for mental disorders. Our data indicate that antidepressants are commonly used in the absence of clear evidence-based indications,” the study authors conclude.

Previous studies have revealed that antidepressants were being over-prescribed and prescribed off-label.  But critics of these studies argued that they underestimated the lifetime prevalence of “mental disorders.”  This latest study seeks to address this criticism by conducting several in-depth interviews to more adequately estimate whether participants met criteria for “mental disorders” over their lifetime.

By analyzing the data from the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA), the researchers identified participants currently using antidepressant drugs and interviewed them.  Through the interviews, they assessed whether the participants had, over the course of their life, ever met the criteria for mood and anxiety disorders as they are defined in the diagnostic manual (DSM-III and DSM-III-R).

While several large-scale meta-analyses in the past decade have questioned the efficacy of antidepressants over the placebo effect in people diagnosed with depression, many maintained that the drugs were still necessary as a first-line treatment for severe depression or major depressive disorder (MDD). More recent studies have begun to undermine their effectiveness in MDD as well. Despite these findings, this study indicates that 69% of people taking antidepressants never met criteria for MDD and that “38% never met criteria for MDD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder in their lifetime.”

The new study also reveals that you are more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant if you are a women, white, report physical pain or discomfort to your doctor, or have recently visited a mental health care facility.




Takayanagi, Y., Spira, A. P., Bienvenu, O. J., Hock, R. S., Carras, M. C., Eaton, W. W., & Mojtabai, R. (2015). Antidepressant use and lifetime history of mental disorders in a community sample: results from the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study. J Clin Psychiatry, 76(1), 40-44. doi:10.4088/JCP.13m08824  (Abstract)

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Justin Karter
MIA Research News Editor: Justin M. Karter is the lead research news editor for Mad in America. He completed his doctorate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He also holds graduate degrees in both Journalism and Community Psychology from Point Park University. He brings a particular interest in examining and decoding cultural narratives of mental health and reimagining the institutions built on these assumptions.


  1. In The News today, more old news.

    ““Many individuals who are prescribed and use antidepressant medications may not have met criteria for mental disorders. … ”

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    “A major indicator of the deteriorating quality of conventional medical care in the U.S. is its growing reliance on pharmaceutical drugs as a catch-all for pain and disease management. And a new study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry shows that this dire situation is only worsening, as many conventional doctors are no longer even properly diagnosing patients but instead just handing out medications willy-nilly in order to get patients out the door. ”

    Veterans routinely given psychiatric drugs even without diagnosis of mental disorder

    So, I conclude, that studies are useless if the information they produce is not acted upon.

    *puts on clown wig

    We all know how truly very important the studies are. They are! They’re very, very important. A new study published gets, us, all, excited, to learn, more, about what, we, already, know, but then, just, do, another, study, until, your, brain, falls, out. Look, my brain is on the floor. I think I will study it!

    Then I will publish a study about it. Then, there will be a study of my study. And finally, a bill in the House of Representatives!

    Stop! We have studied the studies and published more studies and then we studied those, too! Stop the needle, he’s just a child. You’re going to inject him with a drug that will mangle him for life.

    Here’s a snapshot of the future,

    In The News

    Monday, August 22, 2016

    A new report has revealed that Big Pharma ate the Department of Justice over their new drug, Helplactin, which was administered to zygotes in their petri dish before being injected into the Wellbutrified mother. Postpartum Depression has now morphed into a new mental disorder called Infant Rejection Syndrome where the offspring and parent do not recognize one another and do not bond. Big Pharma is working on yet another drug to treat the new disorder, despite charges of defrauding Medicare for reimbursement for the FDA rejected Helplactin, which was approved only for the treatment of Intractable Hiccups. 54 whistleblowers, which were undercover agents for Big Pharma, received $77 billion dollars each for their service, which has bankrupt the government. Studies show that studies show studies, which show the RESULTS of the studies, that tragically, nobody sees the problem, or knows what to do. Big Pharma is now the government.

    RIP, Humanity.

    /takes off clown wig

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  2. This should surprise no one, and yet nothing will be done. Doctors can basically do whatever they want, however stupid, as long as lots of other doctors are doing the same. Something needs to be done to create some accountability, in psychiatry and in medicine in general. Doctors really are handing these things out like M&Ms.

    — Steve

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    • The avenue of the democratic process is obstructed by lobbyists, in which lawmakers have already decided to betray the public (or so we all think).

      This community is remarkably small. I know Mad In America to be a precious, hidden jewel on the internet and it is my hope that this website can go from what appears to be less than 10,000 registered users to mainstream, mass awareness. Unfortunately, the site might not be able to handle mass traffic and the server may crash. It is going to take a miracle.

      It’s not only the common citizens who need to be reached but people like New York attorney Andrew Finkelstein, who went forward with close to 300 lawsuits against Pfizer.

      What we need is a network of unified attorneys who will dedicate themselves to making the case for Justice – not only against “Big Pharma” and psychiatry – but also, the government agencies who legally empower them to perpetuate one of the worst, most deadly atrocities against humanity. We all know in our hearts, minds and souls it MUST be stopped.

      Paula Caplan is a star witness, and I deeply appreciate the work she has done.

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    • “Doctors can basically do whatever they want, however stupid, as long as lots of other doctors are doing the same.” This is a problem, I agree.

      For example, should a person be taken off an antidepressant if it makes them manic or suicidal or homosidal? Or should this be the ‘standard of care’ for all those given antidepressants, who become “manic” from the antidepressants, and end up with a “bipolar” MISdiagnosis, according to the DSM-IV-TR, but an accurate diagnosis, according to today’s DSM5?

      According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the drug combinations recommended for this completely iatrogenic “bipolar” diagnosis today:

      “Medications may include:

      “Mood stabilizers. Whether you have bipolar I or II disorder, you’ll typically need mood-stabilizing medication to control manic or hypomanic episodes. Examples of mood stabilizers include lithium (Lithobid), valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex sodium (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, others) and lamotrigine (Lamictal).

      “Antipsychotics. If symptoms of depression or mania persist in spite of treatment with other medications, adding an antipsychotic medication such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), aripiprazole (Abilify), ziprasidone (Geodon), lurasidone (Latuda) or asenapine (Saphris) may help. Your doctor may prescribe some of these medications alone or along with a mood stabilizer.

      “Antidepressants. Your doctor may add an antidepressant to help manage depression. Because an antidepressant can sometimes trigger a manic episode, it’s usually prescribed along with a mood stabilizer or antipsychotic.

      “Antidepressant-antipsychotic. The medication Symbyax combines the antidepressant fluoxetine and the antipsychotic olanzapine. It works as a depression treatment and a mood stabilizer. Symbyax is approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for the treatment of depressive episodes associated with bipolar I disorder.
      Anti-anxiety medications. Benzodiazepines may help with anxiety and improve sleep. Benzodiazepines are generally used for relieving anxiety only on a short-term basis.”

      I’m quite certain this is medical advise meant to harm patients, especially given the medical fact that combining these drug classes is known to cause anticholinergic intoxication syndrome, a syndrome whose central symptoms are almost identical to that of the positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.”

      “Agents with anticholinergic properties (e.g., sedating antihistamines; antispasmodics; neuroleptics; phenothiazines; skeletal muscle relaxants; tricyclic antidepressants; disopyramide) may have additive effects when used in combination. Excessive parasympatholytic effects may result in … the anticholinergic intoxication syndrome … Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.”

      “Substances that may cause [anticholinergic] toxidrome include the four “anti”s of antihistamines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and antiparkinsonian drugs[3] as well as atropine, benztropine, datura, and scopolamine.”

      What is being recommended as the proper treatment for “bipolar” today will result in an illness that looks like “schizophrenia” to the doctors, but is actually the completely iatrogenic illness of anticholinergic toxidrome / anticholinergic intoxication syndrome.

      But as long as all the doctors are doing this, it’s a-okay to turn heathy individuals into psychotic individuals for profit.

      Truly, what’s going on within the medical field today is deplorable.

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      • “The new study also reveals that you are more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant if you are a women, white, report physical pain or discomfort to your doctor.” So true, doctors today have odd delusions “safe smoking cessation meds” / dangerous mind altering antidepressants cure “bad fixes” on broken bones, especially when the “bad fix” was perpetrated by the doctor’s husband.

        According to an ethical pastor of mine, iatrogenic harm as described above is known as “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” Shame on the two original educated professions for having a “dirty little secret” way of harming patients to cover up easily recognized medical mistakes and child abuse for the religions.

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    • Hi,

      It looks like doctors will prescribe SSRIs for anything. 1 in every 7 adults in Scotland, and 1 in every 10 adults in the UK are prescribed these drugs.

      I believe it’s the same with the ‘anti psychotics’ with 60% of prescriptions in the UK being ‘off label’.

      It’s unlikely in Ireland that Prescribers are aware of the potential dangers of zypexra or what safe withdrawal really means (the same with the Public).

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    • “Doctors can basically do whatever they want, however stupid, as long as lots of other doctors are doing the same. Something needs to be done to create some accountability, in psychiatry and in medicine in general.”

      That is our dumb legal system at work. Doctors and their treatments are judged not based on science and ethics, but based on the so-called community standard (what the others in their community do). That is why the treating psychiatrist of Rebecca Riley is still practicing at Tufts…What she did is not out of sync with what the mainstream does. When the whole rotten system is guilty, no one is guilty (except, perversely, those who take a stand against the prevailing practice). It is the the doctors who abstain from drugging who are at a greater legal and professional risk.

      The jury in the criminal trial of Rebecca Riley’s parents showed much more common sense and good judgment than the representatives of our legal or medical system..They said the psychiatrist should also have been put on trial (she was granted immunity to testify against the parents). We need to keep spreading awareness of how mainstream psychiatry manufactures the destruction of innocent lives.

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