Mental Health Patients Denied Medication

USA TODAY, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Mental Health Patients Denied Medication


Patients with insomnia who are diagnosed with accompanying mental health ailments often are not prescribed medication that will help them sleep--which then could make related anxiety or depression worse, suggests research from Ohio State University, Columbus.

Scientists examining treatment patterns for insomniacs say that their findings suggest that many doctors appear to be reluctant to prescribe sleep aids, even those that pose no risk of dependence, if patients also have depression, anxiety, or mood disorders. An exception is psychiatrists, who were found to be twice as likely as primary care physicians to prescribe medication for insomnia.

"Insomnia can cause you to have anxiety and depression, and depression and anxiety can cause you to have insomnia. It's a chicken-and-egg type of story, but research has shown that, if one of the conditions is left untreated, it can exacerbate the other condition," explains senior study author Rajesh Balkrishnan, professor of pharmacy. "What this calls for are specific guidelines related to the treatment of insomnia that take into consideration these different types of patients, because insomnia has become such a big public health problem. …

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