The Navy Times
by Andrew Tilghman and Brendan McGarry
Friday Sep 3, 2010
Use of psychiatric medications among people ages 18 to 34 — mostly active-duty troops and their spouses — is rising at a significantly higher rate than other age groups in the military health care system, according to data newly released to Military Times.
Overall, the number of prescriptions filled for psychiatric medications rose 42 percent from 2005 to 2009 among Tricare beneficiaries in that age group, according to data provided by Tricare Management Activity in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
That compares to an increase of 24 percent among Tricare beneficiaries ages 45 to 64, mostly retirees. For children 17 and younger, the increase was 18 percent.
All the increases outpace overall growth in the Tricare population over the same period.
Anti-depressants like Zoloft, Wellbutrin and Celexa account for slightly more than half of the prescriptions in this age group. But increasingly, young adults in the military and their spouses are turning to other types of psych meds to treat their mental health problems.
Prescriptions for stimulants, including amphetamines and drugs to treat attention-deficit disorders, more than doubled. And claims for anti-psychotics like Seroquel and Abilify nearly doubled from 2005 to 2009 among beneficiaries ages 18 to 34, the Tricare data show. Seroquel is often used to treat nightmares and sleeping problems related to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The rise — and potential dangers — of psychiatric drug use is a growing concern for many military officials and doctors.
The Army also should “conduct comprehensive research and analysis of the impact of increased use of antidepressant, psychiatric and narcotic pain management medications on the force,” the report said.
Last year, the Army issued a series of policies designed to reduce the risks linked to multi-drug use. Another policy is expected out later this year.
Military death records obtained by Military Times show that at least 68 accidental drug deaths in 2009, up from 24 in 2001. In total, at least 430 troops have died from drug use — or, in a small number of cases, alcohol use — in the past decade.
Read the rest of this article here: http://www.navytimes.com/news/2010/09/military-psych-meds-080910/