Overutilization of psychiatric drugs

Other Names:
Overprescription of mood altering pharmaceuticals
Overuse of antipsychotics

Psychiatric drugs are over-prescribed.  It reflects a growing reliance on prescription medications to manage common emotional problems, particularly of seniors and women.  While psychiatric drug prescriptions have increased, mental health is declining. Suicide rates are at a 30-year high and mental disorders are now the second most common cause of disability.  There is a substantive link between increased psychiatric drug use, especially by younger Americans, and the rash of school shootings.


According to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rate of antidepressant use in the USA among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008.  By December 2016, as reported by the Scientific American, fully one-in-six Americans were taking a psych drug.

Based on government survey data (2013) from more than 37,400 Americans:

  • Nearly 17 percent of American adults used one or more psychiatric drugs in 2013, up from 10 percent in 2011
  • 12 percent of users are taking antidepressants; 8.3 percent are taking anxiety drugs, sedatives and/or sleeping pills; 1.6 percent are taking antipsychotics
  • Caucasians are twice as likely to use psychiatric drugs than African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians (20.8 percent were Caucasian, 9 percent African-American, 8.7 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian)
  • 25 percent of seniors between the ages of 60 and 85 are taking at least one psychiatric drug. This despite the fact that incidence of diagnosable mental problems tends to be lower in seniors than younger adults overall

Other research shows that anti-anxiety benzodiazepine drugs accounted for nearly one-third of the 23,000 prescription overdoses in 2013.

Broader Problems:
Abuse of prescription drugs
Psychotic violence
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST