Use of prescription medications and complementary and alternative medicines to treat depressive and anxiety symptoms: results from a community sample.J Affect Disord. 2004 Oct 01; 82(1):77-84.JA
Individuals prescribed antidepressants or anxiolytics may replace or augment such medications with complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs). Little is known about the extent to which individuals in the community use CAMs instead of, or in addition to, medications they have been prescribed, for anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Information on use of CAMs, antidepressants and anxiolytics was obtained from a community sample of 7485 survey participants from Canberra and environs, Australia. Participants aged 20-24, 40-44, or 60-64 were also provided information on sociodemographic attributes, physical and mental health.
6.29% of participants used only prescription medications to treat their depression or anxiety. 2.28% used only CAMs for this purpose while a further 0.59% reported using both types of treatments. Those using CAMs and those who took prescription medications had comparable levels of mental health problems while CAM users had fewer physical health problems and lower neuroticism. Compared with those taking neither CAMs nor prescribed medication, however, CAM users had more depressive and anxiety symptoms, worse mental health, higher neuroticism and lower levels of mastery.
Information on use of prescribed and CAMs is self-reported and is subject to the inaccuracies and omissions associated with this method of data collection.
We found survey participants used CAMs less frequently than prescription medications to treat their depressive or anxiety symptoms. Nonetheless, medical practitioners should be aware that their patients may use CAMs and seek information about such use to reduce the likelihood of adverse interactions between prescribed medication and CAMs.