From Our 2009 Archives
Americans Warming to Psychiatric Drugs
Survey Shows Americans Adopting More Favorable Attitudes Toward Depression, Anxiety Medications
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
For the study, which appears in the August issue of the journal Psychiatric Services, researchers compared the responses of people who participated in the U.S. General Social Surveys in 1998 and 2006.
The researchers found:
Psychiatric Drugs: Downside of Changing Attitudes
The survey also showed that the percentage of people willing to take psychiatric drugs for nonspecific problems also is increasing. For example, 29% are willing to take these medications to help in their personal lives, up from 23%, and 47% see the drugs as a way to help cope with stress.
“This finding calls for a more targeted and selective approach in public information campaigns aimed at improving public understanding of the proper uses of psychiatric medications,” study author Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says in a news release.
One reason for the more favorable attitude toward drugs is that the public is becoming more aware that mental health can be improved, he writes. Another reason may be direct-to-consumer advertising, which touts benefits of medications. Also, mental health issues have received more public discussion in recent years.
The results are “consistent with the finding of growing use of antidepressant medications” among people who don't meet criteria for anxiety or mood disorders, he says.
Over the years, he adds, negative attitudes about psychiatric drugs have been among the greatest challenges in treating mental health problems.
SOURCES: News release, American Psychiatric Association. Mojtabai, R. Psychiatric Services, August 2009; vol 60.
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