Prescribing antidepressants and benzodiazepines in the Netherlands: Is chronic physical illness involved?

Jacques Th M Van Eijk, Hans Bosma, Catharina C M Jonkers, Femke Lamers, Paul E M Muijrers

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In this study we assessed differences in new and repeat prescriptions of psycho-tropics between patients receiving prescriptions for drugs to treat a common chronic disease and people without such prescriptions. The study used the databases of two Dutch health insurance companies (3 million people). We selected all Dutch men and women aged 45 and older who were registered for six consecutive years (1999-2004). Our analyses both found a consistent relation between psycho-tropics on the one hand and physical illness on the other. People with multi-morbidity were prescribed these drugs most often, especially men and those younger than 65. Epidemiological studies showed a prevalence of depression among people with multi-morbidity to be twice as high as among people without such conditions. According to recent guidelines non-drug treatment may be the first therapy option for patients with non severe depression. If prescribed for a long time, benzodiazepine prescriptions are especially known to be addictive. Our data raise the question to what extent patients with a chronic physical disease suffering from co-occurring mental problems are prescribed psycho-tropics in accord with the guidelines that also advise mental support in case of non severe mental problems. Further research can answer this important question.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105931
JournalDepression Research and Treatment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010

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