Monday, November 07, 2016

Prescriptions for psychiatric drugs, most from non-psychiatrists, are partly blamed for rising suicide rate among white, middle-aged women

La Plata County, Colorado (Wikipedia map)
An increase in psychiatric drug prescriptions is being linked to an increase in suicide rates among white middle-age women 45 to 54 working blue-collar jobs, Amy Ellis Nutt reports for The Washington Post in the latest story in a series about the phenomenon. The suicide rate among middle-aged white women increased from 7 per 100,000 in 1999 to 12.6 in 2014. Psychiatric drug prescriptions increased 117 percent from 1999 to 2013.

Colorado ranks fourth nationally for suicide rates among middle-aged white women, Nutt writes. Rural La Plata County, with a population of 53,284, leads the state among counties with more than 30,000 residents. Fourteen middle-aged white women in the county have committed suicide since 2007. A Post analysis "found striking commonalities: Most worked physically demanding jobs. Most suffered from chronic pain. And most struggled with mental-health issues that, surviving friends and relatives say, were addressed through psychiatric medications that were ultimately ineffective."

"The number of prescriptions written by non-psychiatrists also has risen," Nutt writes. "As many as 80 percent of all antidepressant prescriptions are written by physicians who are not psychiatrists, multiple studies have found, and doctors often give the drugs to people who have received no psychiatric diagnosis. Studies also show that the drugs work only about half the time and can produce side effects, such as anxiety and sleeplessness, that mimic worsening symptoms."

"More than half of all counties in the U.S.—all of them rural—have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers, according to a 2013 federal report," Nutt writes. "In La Plata County, only one mental-health clinic accepted Medicaid." (Read more)

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