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Psychologists’ group promoting alternatives to antidepressants

The American Psychological Association has produced new videos urging people to consider trying psychotherapy before going on antidepressants.

A CBS News report about the videos says that approximately one out of 10 Americans reports having depression. U.S. doctors prescribed $9.9 billion worth of antidepressants in 2009, which represents a 3 percent increase from 2008.

Yet one-third of Americans taking one antidepressant medication and less than one-half of those taking multiple antidepressants have seen a mental health professional in the past year.

Recent studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of antidepressants, finding that they perform about as well as placebos in cases of mild to moderate depression.

Other studies have raised safety issues about the popular antidepressants classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs – linking them to potentially dangerous heart and lung defects in newborns.

SSRI antidepressants include Prozac and Zoloft.

The CBS News report quotes APA spokeswoman Luana Bossolo as saying the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture antidepressants spend $4.2 billion on advertising, and her organization simply wants to show people that they may have other options.

The National Institutes of Health says depression affects more than 14 million people, and classifies it as one of the top 10 chronic health problems in the United States.

CBS News quotes Dr. Katherine Nordal, executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association, as saying: “By arming people with information, APA is encouraging those with symptoms of depression or anxiety to ask their primary-care practitioners about psychotherapy as a first course of treatment. We want Americans to know that when it comes to treating depression and anxiety, they have choices about treatment, and psychotherapy is one of them.”

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries from SSRIs.

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