Facts on Access to Medications for People
with Depressive, Bipolar and Anxiety Illnesses

The Policymaker's Resource

"The past decade has seen an outpouring of new drugs introduced for the treatment of mental illness.  New medications for the treatment of depression...are among the achievements stoked by research advances in both neuroscience and molecular biology." 

U.S. Surgeon General Report on Mental Health, 1999

Medications for People with Depressive, Bipolar and Anxiety Disorders Should be Exempt from Restrictive Public Policies

  • Unlike many medications that treat other illnesses, medications that treat depressive, bipolar and anxiety disorders cannot be used interchangeably.
  • Because of the biologic differences among patients, medications that treat these disorders work differently for each person.
  • Also, because the brain is such a complex organ and these disorders are so complex, medications affect each person’s brain in a very different way.
  • The side effects of these medications can be extremely serious, and vary with each patient. The worse the side effects, the less likely a patient will be able to stay on treatment.
  • Forcing physicians to change medications that treat depressive, bipolar and anxiety disorders interferes with clinical decision making. It can weeks or months to determine if a medication works, and if not, additional weeks with no medication is required before a new one is tried. Each failed episode results in suffering and possible worsening of a patient’s condition.
  • Access to medications for people with these disorders is essential for achieving the best possible clinical outcome as quickly as possible, which leads to the most cost-effective policy for policymakers and states.
  • These disorders are three of the leading disabilities in the U.S. Access to medications for these disorders ensures effective and faster treatment, thereby returning people to work earlier.
  • No real cost savings, even in the short term, will result from Medicaid policies that restrict medication choices for people with these disorders.
  • Access to medications is critically important based on the unique nature of the medications and the individual characteristics of people with these disorders. State legislators should preserve and/or restore state funding for medications for people living with these illnesses.

Policymaker's Resource Contents


Patient's Responsibility

Restrictive Formularies

Positive Effects of Open Access to Medications are Enormous

The Evidence Base for Newer Anti-Depressant Medications


Policymakers Toolkit Home

Related Files

Facts on Access to Medications for People with Mood Disorders: The Policymakers Resource (PDF File)
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