Anti-depressant use in the USA soaring

The % of people on anti-depressants in the USA is at an all-time high at 11 %. (Funny, it only seems to go up, and not down, don’t you think?) This according to an article in Medscape Today, Antidepressant Nation: Use Tops One in Ten.

Eleven percent of Americans ages 12 or older use antidepressants — usually for at least two years but 14% have been taking antidepressants for a decade or longer, according to a CDC analysis of data culled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2008.

We’ve got an unemployment rate of 9 %, and I’m just waiting for that one to enter the double digits, too. Obviously, running charities for big businesses run by wealthy Americans is not getting people hired either.

Let’s put this anti-depressant use in perspective by looking at another article on the matter in The New American, CDC: Antidepressant Use Up 400% in Past Decade.

Yes, you read right. In 1 decade there has been a 400 % rise in the number of people taking anti-depressants.

With the development of Prozac and similar drugs, more than one out of every 10 Americans over the age of 12 now takes an antidepressant, according to the findings. Researchers analyzed data collected from 12,637 people who participated in the center’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which elicit information from about 5,000 Americans of all ages every year. Antidepressants were the third most common prescription drug taken by Americans of all ages in 2005–2008 and the most frequently used by persons aged 18–44 years. The nearly quadruple rate of antidepressant use was from 1988–1994 through 2005–2008.

I’m going to a Canadian article to help explain this phenomenon, Psychiatrists Urged to Fight Stigma Linked to Mental Illness.

A new position paper, released here at the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) 61st Annual Conference by the association, aims to reduce stigmatization of and discrimination against the mentally ill by mental health professionals, including psychiatrists.

Good enough. What’s the problem?

The position paper suggests a 3-pronged approach to reducing stigma: protest, educate, and contact. It calls on all psychiatrists to lead by example and to protest stigma and discrimination when they encounter it, use education to counteract it, and promote direct contact with people who have lived with mental illness.

Keep reading…

In 2008, the CPA’s Stigma-Discrimination Working Group conducted a survey of its members asking about first-hand experiences of discrimination. Based on 394 responses out of a possible 1083, 79% of respondents reported discrimination toward a patient, 65% reported discrimination toward a mental healthcare provider, 53% reported discrimination against psychiatry as a profession, and 53% observed other medical providers discriminating against a psychiatric patient. At 89%, the survey found that the highest rate of stigma and discrimination was toward people with mental illness presenting to the emergency department.

Notice that this survey was asking whether people were discriminating against mental healthcare providers and the psychiatric profession. Does this mean there is a “stigma” attached to providing mental healthcare or practicing psychiatry? Think, if you can, about all the poor unfortunate psychiatrists and mental healthcare workers there are out there in the world. They need more people (i.e. mental healthcare consumers) to remedy their suffering. A mental healthcare consumer is a person who has been labeled by a psychiatrist “mentally ill”. We’re talking business here, and differences in opinion, surely, but are we talking “stigma”? You be the judge.

Now skip to the bottom of the page regarding this anti-“stigma” anti-discrimination campaigner.

Dr. Blanketyblank reports she is on the advisory board of Eli Lilly Canada Inc, Lundbeck Canada Inc, and Pfizer Canada Inc. She also reports receiving research funding from Lundbeck Canada Inc. Dr. Blanketyblank has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

No relevant financial relationships, I’d like to point out, is funding from pharmaceutical companies. This fact certainly gives a new twist to the definition of relevance.

The rates of anti-depressant use are going up because drug companies, and doctors in their pay, are doing everything they can do to sell anti-depressants. If you want the rates of anti-depressant usage to go down, you have to resort to preventative measures. Anti-“stigma” and anti-discrimination campaigns directed at mental healthcare providers and psychiatry as a profession are not preventative. If such campaigns are not preventative, they are causative. This business is asking the public to help it sell itself by using some kind of reverse prejudice ploy, and all sorts of people are all too easily taken in by it.

Throwing more money at the problem doesn’t represent a solution unless that money is actually spent on preventing mental health issues from occuring, and on getting people released from current mental health treatment. An expanding mental health system is a broken mental health system. When the numbers of people in mental health treatment is contracting rather than rising, you have a working mental healthcare system. Unfortunately, due to the confusion sowed by conflicts in interests that already exist, some people might not be able to make this connection. The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2020 depression will be the leading cause of disability in the world, and this prediction would indicate that the selling of anti-depressants is probably not going to decrease any time soon.