400% Rise in Anti-Depressant Pill Use: Americans Are Disempowered – Published on AlterNet, by Bruce E. Levine, October 26, 2011.
Is it time to repoliticize a great deal of our despair, and reconsider the old-fashioned antidepressant of political activism? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC recently reported that antidepressant use in the United States has increased nearly 400 percent in the last two decades, making antidepressants the most frequently used class of medications by Americans ages 18-44.
Among Americans 12 years and older, 11 percent were taking antidepressants by 2005-2008 (the most recently reported study period), and 23 percent of women ages 40–59 years were taking them.
Why has U.S. antidepressant use skyrocketed? Are the symptoms of what is commonly called depression—helplessness, hopelessness, and immobilization—always evidence of a medical condition? Or is it time to repoliticize a great deal of our despair, and reconsider the old-fashioned antidepressant of political activism?
Common Explanations for Soaring Antidepressant Use: … //
… Rather than SSRIs’ greater effectiveness, it was their greater publicity that stimulated public acceptance. One publicity coup commenced in 1997 when U.S. government agencies changed the rules for broadcast advertising, no longer requiring full information about side effects (which had previously made it problematic for drug companies to run a thirty-second spot). TV advertising dramatically increased patient requests for antidepressants from their physicians. A study reported in 2005 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Influence of Patients’ Requests for Direct-to-Consumer Advertised Antidepressants, concluded, Patients’ requests have a profound effect on physician prescribing. (full text).