Is Depression Being Over Diagnosed?

According to John Hopkins researchers (April 30), Americans are over-diagnosed and over-medicated (antidepressants) for depression. The study found less than 40% of adult patients identified with clinical depression actually met the criteria for depression.

The author of the research also noted that 6 out of 7 older patients diagnosed with depression did not meet the twelve-month major depressive episode criteria.

Additionally, it was found that the majority of the study participants took prescription psychiatric medications (antidepressants) for their depression.

Previous statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a 400% increase in the use of antidepressants during the 2005-2008 period. During the 1988-1994 period, only 11% were taking antidepressants.

According to the CDC’s website, the following groups are more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression:

  • persons 45-64 years of age
  • women
  • blacks, Hispanics, non-Hispanic persons of other races or multiple races
  • persons with less than a high school education
  • those previously married
  • individuals unable to work or unemployed
  • persons without health insurance coverage

The new research findings strongly suggest some doctors do not understand the difference between sub-threshold symptoms and the diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of major depressive disorder.

Concerned individuals are advised to be consciously aware of their symptoms, therefore being concise in relating their concerns to their doctors.