One in Ten Americans Now Take Antidepressants
One in ten Americans are reported to be taking antidepressant medication. This figure represents over 11 percent of the population, or nearly 30 million American citizens. Statistics also reveal that more than one in five women aged 40 – 59 are on an antidepressant, and up to 4 percent of those between 14 and 17 are on an antidepressant.
Antidepressant drugs can be prescribed by medical doctors to treat a clinical depression but also for a range of symptoms including insomnia, chronic headaches, anxiety and stress. A medical doctor will prescribe the drug on an individual case, and the drug use needs to be managed properly through blood testing and doctor assessments. The drug group is incredibly large, and there are a many different types of antidepressants to suit different people and different issues. Some drugs interact with other medications or cause people to have stronger reactions. The main drug groups under the umbrella of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), serotonin-nonrepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) and tricyclic antidepressants.
Some critics believe that there are too many prescriptions of antidepressants being handed out to people who are not clinically depressed or even requiring medication. Anecdotal evidence suggests that doctors often prescribe antidepressants for people who are going through a sad time in their life, such the death of a family member, a difficult emotional period or even an especially dismal winter. However, sad or difficult periods like this should not necessarily be equated to depression.
There is some evidence to suggest that pharmaceutical companies encourage doctors to give out prescriptions of antidepressants and give them financial benefits and gifts in return. This can be an incredibly dangerous cycle, as some doctors will begin to prescribe drugs purely for the benefits they can receive rather than for actual medical conditions. This potentially contributed to the 400 percent inflation of the number of antidepressant prescriptions handed out in the three-year period that ended in 2008.
Depression is a complex mood disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood, low self-esteem and loss of interest in regular activities or socializing. Depression affects a person’s ability to function in normal life and can be associated with significant changes in appearance, weight, inability to sleep and obsession with a particular idea or thought.
Depression affects millions of people worldwide and is one of the most commonly treated mental disorders. This disorder is often linked with substance abuse issues including alcoholism. Some people self-medicate their depression with drugs and alcohol. Others may cause themselves to become depressed as a result of a lifestyle that has become ruled by drugs. Personal trauma, abuse, family history, work problems, relationship breakdowns and financial difficulties may all contribute to the development of depression. Drinking alcohol or using illicit substances in combination with antidepressants can be incredibly dangerous.
Culture of Prescribing
There is a major culture of taking and prescribing drugs in society, one that does not necessarily deal with the root causes of the illness. Short-term fixes are often preferred to the development of coping strategies. People are interested in taking drugs to solve their issues without having to deal with the root cause of the problems. A person may seek out an antidepressant to deal with a traumatic experience, family breakdown or financial difficulties without going to a professional to work through the challenges. Many people find it difficult to speak their mind and ask close family or friends for help.
Medication is a tool that can be used to treat the symptoms of diseases. Antidepressants are successful at alleviating the crippling symptoms of depression, but they do not cure the disease. Depression can be successfully treated with an extensive program that includes psychotherapy, medication and cognitive behavior therapy.