You might walk out of your doctor’s office with an antidepressant even if your mood isn’t a problem: Almost half of all antidepressant prescriptions each year are given out to treat conditions other than depression, finds a new study in JAMA.
In the study, researchers looked at 10 years worth of electronic medical records—a total of 100,000 prescriptions written by 160 doctors for 20,000 people—and found that antidepressant drugs are also being doled out for problems like anxiety, insomnia, pain, bulimia, and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
While this study focused on prescriptions made in Quebec, the researchers point out that antidepressant use has increased in the U.S. over the last few decades, too.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s risen by a whopping 400 percent between 1988 and 2008, the last year data is available.
So are antidepressants, which help balance the chemicals serotonin and dopamine in your brain, some sort of cure-all drug?
“In my practice and experience, we have found that antidepressants help with a lot of conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, bulimia, and even anxiety,” says Niket Sonpal, M.D., assistant clinical professor at Touro College of Medicine in New York City.
And the widespread use of antidepressants for a variety of issues makes sense in some ways, says Dr. Sonpal.
“[The mind-body connection is] so much stronger than we estimate and frankly even understand,” he says. “There is interplay of our brain, mood, and disposition with the rest of our body.”
Serotonin and dopamine are also found in your gut, for example.
Related: How Writing About My Anxiety and Depression Has Helped Me Cope
Still, while some antidepressants are FDA-approved for generalized anxiety disorder, the JAMA study authors point out that there’s no hard science proving that antidepressants work to treat other conditions.
Right now, everything else is anecdotal evidence. More research needs to be done on other conditions to know for sure whether they can help.
Link original: http://www.menshealth.com/health/doctors-prescribe-antidepressants-depression