The High Cost of Anguish

Mar 28, 2007 2:08pm

It’s quite possible that you know someone who has battled depression, or severe anxiety, or other psychiatric ills, and it’s even more possible that you don’t even know it, thanks to the power of medication.

A lot of Americans take pills today for psychiatric needs–in 2004, 24.8 million bought antidepressants, and 7.9 million took prescription medications for anxiety or insomnia.

Doubtless these medicines have saved pain, even lives.  But they’re costly, and a new report shows how quickly their use is growing.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, reports that expenditures for psychoactive medications grew 2.5 times from 1997 to 2004, from $7.9 billion to $20 billion.

Other points from the report:

–The sharpest increase was for antipsychotic agents, medications used to manage schizophrenia and other psychoses. They saw an increase from $1.3 billion to $4.1 billion from 1997 to 2004.

–Spending for central nervous system stimulants, to treat pain and control seizures, nearly tripled over the same time period, increasing from $0.6 billion to $1.7 billion.

–Spending on antidepressants more than doubled from 1997 to 2004, increasing from $5.1 billion to $12.1 billion, as did expenditures for anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics for anxiety and sleep disorders. Spending for these drugs rose from $.9 billion to $2.1 billion.

–During the same time period, overall prescriptions for psychotherapeutic drugs increased from 141.9 million to 244.3 million; the number of people prescribed at least one such drug rose from 21 million to 32.6 million; and the average price per purchase increased from $55.80 to $82.00.

The full document is HERE.  Thanks to Brian Hartman for the info. 

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