Monday, August 11, 2008

Medication on the rise; Psychotherapy on the decline

Don’t be surprised the next time you are in for a visit with a psychiatrist and you are offered anti-depressants instead of psychotherapy - according to a study report covered in the Los Angeles Times regarding psychiatry.

Anti-depressants are one of the largest-selling classes of drugs in the medical industry and insurance companies, not the psychiatric professionals, are calling the shots in determining their use.

From 2004 to 2005, 28% of patients received psychotherapy compared to 44.4% of patients between the years of 1996 and 1997. This 15% drop is largely due to the insurance reimbursement policies. Quite frankly, the insurers subscribe to the notion that it is easier and more cost effective to drug you up than to talk you up. Doctors are provided a better financial incentive for a 15 minute medication management visit than a 45 to 50 minute outpatient psychotherapy session.

The report also said that psychiatrists who provided psychotherapy only for their patients dropped to 10.8% in 2004-2005 from 19% in 1996-1997.

Is this decline in psychotherapy only happening because of these money grabbing insurance companies or are the patients partly to blame in searching for a quick fix? This is what Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University Medical Center asks/suggests.

Whatever the reason for this increase in psychoactive medication – financial incentives or the impatience of our society or both – just be aware of the changes in how psychiatrists do business.

Medication Increasingly Replaces Psychotherapy, Study Finds

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