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More people use, and believe in, psychiatric drugs

July 31, 2009 |  8:49 am

Antidepressants Americans have much more favorable attitudes about psychiatric medications compared with almost a decade ago, according to new data. A survey in the August issue of the journal Psychiatric Services shows more people find the medications helpful. But the study also suggests people may be confused about the appropriate uses of the drugs.

Compared with a survey in 1998, respondents in a survey conducted in 2006 said psychiatric medications help people to feel better about themselves (68% compared with 60%); help people to deal with day-to-day stresses (83% compared with 78%) and make things easier in relations with family and friends (76% compared with 68%).

The problem is that the medications are not meant to be used to deal with day-to-day stresses. "This finding calls for a more targeted and selective approach in public information campaigns aimed at improving public understanding of the proper uses of psychiatric medications," said the lead author of the report, Dr. Rami Mojtabai, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a news release.

Although the study found increasing awareness of the benefits of psychiatric medications, when participants were presented with several hypothetical situations, the majority still said they would be unwilling to take them.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Darren Booth  /  For The Times

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