Most people understand that the role of psychiatric medications is to help alleviate the symptoms associated with different types of mental disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, anxiety, and others. Psychiatric medications are an important part of a comprehensive plan for effectively treating people who have a mental health concern or mental illness.
It’s good to know what drugs are being prescribed most often for mental disorders in the U.S. These are the top 25 psychiatric medications by number of U.S. prescriptions dispensed in 2016, according to QuintilesIMS, a global information and technology services company.
In 2016, for the first time ever, Zoloft (sertaline) topped Xanax as the most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. Zoloft is commonly prescribed for depressive symptoms, while Xanax is most often prescribed for anxiety. Lexapro has become the second-most prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants, used to treat clinical depression.
By far, the most common mental disorder that psychiatric medications are prescribed for is clinical depression. Although it is not the most prevalent mental disorder, it appears to the one that most psychiatric prescriptions are written for. More than 338 million prescriptions were written for anti-depressant medications in 2016 — enough for one each to every man, woman, and child in the United States. And that’s just from the list of the top 25 medications — even more are prescribed outside of this list.
Most Prescribed Psychiatric Drugs for 2016
- Zoloft (sertaline) – Depression
- Xanax (alprazolam) – Anxiety
- Lexapro (escitalopram) – Depression
- Celexa (citalopram) – Depression
- Wellbutrin (bupropion) – Depression
- Desyrel (trazodone) – Anxiety, Depression
- Prozac (fluoxetine) – Depression
- Adderall (dextroamphetamine and amphetamine) – ADHD
- Ativan (lorazepam) – Anxiety
- Cymbalta (duloxetine) – Depression
- Effexor (venlafaxine) – Depression
- Seroquel (quetiapine) – Bipolar disorder, Depression
- Concerta (methylphenidate) – ADHD
- Kapvay (clonidine) – ADHD
- Lamictal (lamotrigine) – Bipolar disorder
- Paxil (paroxetine) – Depression
- Elavil (amitriptyline) – Depression
- Remeron (mirtazapine) – Depression
- Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) – ADHD
- Depakote (divalproex) – Bipolar disorder
- Risperdal (risperidone) – Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia
- Abilify (aripiprazole) – Bipolar disorder, Depression, Schizophrenia
- Zyprexa (olanzapine) – Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia
- Intuiv (guanfacine) – ADHD
- Lithium (lithium carbonate) – Bipolar disorder
Psychiatric medications should only be prescribed by your treating psychiatrist or physician. The most effective treatment for most mental disorders is rarely medication alone. A combined treatment approach, that includes psychotherapy, results in quicker, more positive outcomes for most people who are coping with mental illness.
I know that many people take a medication alone. Or they take a medication prescribed by their family doctor, having never seen a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. If you’ve had a long-term disorder you’re living with, this may be just fine. But if you’re a newly diagnosed individual with a mental disorder, you really should reach out to a psychiatrist or psychologist to confirm your diagnosis, and consider additional treatment options. There are a wealth of self-care strategies that a therapist can help you with as well. Many people find online support groups helpful, too. The important thing is to receive the best possible and most comprehensive treatment you can.
We last wrote about the top 25 psychiatric prescription drugs in 2013.
We would like to thank the good folks at QuintilesIMS for providing this data to us every year.