CNN CDC Reports: Antidepressants are the most widely prescribed drug in the US.
"Doctors are now medicating unhappiness," said Dworkin. "Too many people take drugs when they really need to be making changes in their lives."
For Dworkin, the proof is in the statistics. According to a government study, antidepressants have become the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. They're prescribed more than drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, or headaches. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen discusses the CDC study on antidepressants
In its study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals in 2005. Of those, 118 million were for antidepressants.
High blood pressure drugs were the next most-common with 113 million prescriptions.
The use of antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs -- those that affect brain chemistry -- has skyrocketed over the last decade.
Adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between the periods 1988-1994 and 1999-2000.
Between 1995 and 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the use of these drugs rose 48 percent, the CDC reported.
Many psychiatrists see this statistic as good news -- a sign that finally Americans feel comfortable asking for help with psychiatric problems.
"Depression is a major public health issue," said Dr. Kelly Posner, an assistant professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. "The fact that people are getting the treatments they need is encouraging."
She added that 25 percent of adults will have a major depressive episode sometime in their life, as will 8 percent of adolescents. "Those are remarkably high numbers," Posner said.
What is the true cost and toll of these medications?
The mental health profession uses antidepressants to relieve symptoms. The question is which symptoms and why select these medicines, especially when they only act short-term. These medications do not address the underlying problem, as read in the story above of financial imbalance and irresponsible behavior, rather then mental imbalance.
Every day we learn the outcome on individuals and their families regarding the side effects and dangers of these potent drugs. Only you can decide, but first gain the knowledge to make an educated decision. What are the risks?
Is depression really caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain? Is this just a theory? Has it been thorough tested?
Supposedly a chemical imbalance of serotonin leads to depression and depression medication works by bringing serotonin levels back to normal. However, the truth is that researchers know very little about how antidepressants work. There is no test that can measure the amount of serotonin in the living brain—no way to even know what a low or normal level of serotonin is, let alone show that depression medication fixes these levels.
Does a change in chemicals represent better health?
While antidepressant drugs such as Prozac increase serotonin levels in the brain, this doesn’t mean that depression is caused by a serotonin shortage. After all, aspirin may cure a headache, but it doesn’t mean that headaches are caused by an aspirin deficiency. Furthermore, many studies contradict the chemical imbalance theory of depression. Experiments have shown that lowering people’s serotonin levels doesn’t always lower mood, nor does it worsen symptoms in people who are already depressed. And while antidepressants raise serotonin levels within hours, it takes weeks before medication is able to relieve depression. If low serotonin caused depression, there wouldn’t be this antidepressant medication lag.
Do all researchers and physicians agree?
Researchers agree that when depression is severe, medication can be helpful—even life–saving. However, research shows that antidepressants fall short for many people. A major government study released in 2006 showed that fewer than 50 percent of people become symptom-free on antidepressants, even after trying two different medications.
Even when patients adhere to medication schedules the drugs only last short term for many. And, if we understand The Organon of Medicine, the vital force will act against this medication and the depression will actually worsen once the drugs have stopped their action.
The Studies Have Contradictory Conclusions
Can you believe that placebos might be a potential solution based on the numbers?
Other studies show that the benefits of depression medication have been exaggerated, with some researchers concluding that, when it comes to mild to moderate depression, antidepressants are only slightly more effective than placebos.
What are the Other Options?
If you have severe depression that’s interfering with your ability to function, medication may be right for you. However, many people use antidepressants when therapy, exercise, or self-help strategies would work just as well or better—minus the side effects. Therapy can also help you get to the bottom of your underlying issues and develop the tools to beat depression for good.
Why Don't People Stay On The Program?
There are many different types of drugs used in the treatment of depression, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), atypical antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Side effects are common in all antidepressants. For many people, the side effects are serious enough to make them stop taking the medication.
The SSRIs include:
Does The Medical Profession Take Into Consideration the Whole Person?
The SSRIs act on a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate mood, but it also plays a role in digestion, pain, sleep, mental clarity, and other bodily functions. As a result, the SSRI antidepressants cause a wide range of side effects.
Side Effects Are Not Really Side Effects. Drugs Produce Effects That Can Be Predicted!
Common side effects include sexual problems, drowsiness, sleep difficulties, and nausea. While some side effects go away after the first few weeks of drug treatment, others persist and may even get worse.
Why Use Caution?
In adults over the age of 65, SSRIs pose an additional concern. Studies show that SSRI medications may increase the risk for falls, fractures, and bone loss in older adults. The SSRIs can also cause serious withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them abruptly.
Common side effects of SSRI antidepressants:
Decreased sex drive
Weight gain or loss
User Group Risks of Antidepressants
Anyone who takes antidepressants can experience unpleasant or dangerous side effects. But certain individuals are at a higher risk:
- People over 65. Studies show that SSRI medications may increase the risk for falls, fractures, and bone loss in older adults.
- Pregnant women. The use of SSRI's late in pregnancy may lead to short-term withdrawal symptoms in newborns after delivery. Typical symptoms include tremor, restlessness, mild respiratory problems, and weak cry.
- Teens and adolescents. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that all depression medications include a warning label about the increased risk of suicide in children and young adults.
The depth of depression can lead to suicide, especially during the first month to two months of antidepressant treatment. Monitoring is especially important if this is the person’s first time on depression medication or if the dose has recently been changed. Signs that medication is making things worse include anxiety, insomnia, hostility, and extreme agitation—particularly if the symptoms appear suddenly or rapidly deteriorate. If you spot the warning signs in yourself or a loved one, contact your doctor or therapist immediately.
Antidepressant warning signs:
Suicidal thoughts or attempts
New or worse depression
New or worse anxiety
New or worse irritability
Feeling agitated or restless
Aggression and anger
Acting on dangerous impulses
Other unusual changes in behavior
Withdrawal May Be Difficult on Addictive Substances
Once you’ve started taking antidepressants, stopping can be tough; many people have withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to get off of the medication.