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Astounding increase in antidepressant use by Americans

October 20, 2011

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Peter Wehrwein, Contributor, Harvard Health

Peter Wehrwein was the editor of the Harvard Health Letter from 1999 to May 2012. He is currently a freelance writer and editor, and contributes to the Harvard Health blog and Before editing the Health Letter, … See Full Bio
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Cassie Miller
February 14, 2012

This post is really helpful and got more ideas that gives me inner understanding about this matter. I think people are getting dependent on drugs because this made things so easy for them and not knowing that it does not give them a good outcome to can fix the real problem.

February 13, 2012

I think the medicine of depression is calm the mind and pray to god…

February 13, 2012

Wow if that is the percentage of American taking anti-depressant pill that could be outrageous. Does they consulted a doctor before taking those meds?

February 12, 2012

I agree with others here. The zombie state is what happened to a friend of mine, and it is definitely worthwhile to seek an alternative.

Great post.

February 12, 2012

By the way, his situation worsened to the point of suicidal thoughts with the use of antidepressants. That is why this experience left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Maya - Frases Para Enamorar
February 12, 2012

No disrespect to those that use antidepressants, but I am not a believer in that method in the least. I feel there are other methods and techniques that are adequate enough rather than resorting to pills.

I had an uncle who used antidepressants, and his situation worsened significantly. Again, I realize all is circumstantial, but I feel there is other methods one should seek to treat depression.

February 10, 2012

fresh air,exercise,family,faith,toxin free mind allowing clear thinking is probably the best medicine you can get, but often the free stuff his the hardest to get, be strong

Peter Bloch
February 5, 2012

Also, it is interesting to note that the placebo effect is statistically as great as that of many SSRI drugs. Perhaps that points to a way forward?

Peter Bloch
February 5, 2012

I think that it is quite natural to look for “quick fixes” to problems, even problems of the human spirit. But that does not mean that quick fixes will really work for most people, at least not on their owm.

January 26, 2012

The use of antidepressants, is it a sign of the times we live in?

January 25, 2012

I think there is a better treatment to all those tensions, frustrations, bad times and ill health. The answer is “laugh”. What better treatment can be than this. The easiest way to laugh is by watching funny videos. The more you watch funny videos the more you can bring in smile in your face. So start watching funny and live longer.

chris jones
January 23, 2012

I am amazed at how many people take these anti-depresants. I truly think they are way over perscribed and to be honest is one of our problems causing health insurance to go higher.

I truly believe a lot of people use it as a crutch and its also a easy way for doctors to get some patient’s out of their office.

January 15, 2012

Hi, I think that the antidepressant meds are a bless and a curse at the same time becuse it can be a real realif some time and then you realise how much damage you did to your body.

So you are right (:

January 15, 2012

Hi, I think that the antidepressant meds are a bless and a curse at the same time becuse it can be a real realif some time and then you realise how much damage you did to your body.

So you are right (:


January 2, 2012

We can consider this post because there showing up of addictive information about an drugs.

We must control over an medicine on human body things so we must maintain the relaxations on the world

Actually now a days more peoples taking about an drugs in the worlds or not?

Heather Smith
December 25, 2011

Eating or taking drugs just to forget problems will not help. After the effect of the medicine, here you go again and still drowning in your problem. The best way to is to pray and pray and pray. There are problems that is meant to happen because of some reasons. Thanks for posting this.

December 16, 2011

Hi,maybe more people whould try to follow Michelle´s recipe, instead of eating different types of drugs:

“I have been depresses, and sought help professionally, then studied with the NIWH and learned that I had to take care of myself before I could help anyone else; so I started eating well, that is nutritionally, exercising at a gym were I would be with others, and walking my poor dog who I am sure got as depressed as I was. Now I met a wonderful man and am enjoying life again. just keep going, and realize you can best help yourself, and you must be with other people and do whatever it takes to be with other! Know that many of us care about you, too;)”

December 14, 2011

Is there any connection between increased statin use and the prescription of antidepressants during this time period?

December 10, 2011

The problems in this world are way to numerous to list, and so many cannot cope. Add to this the fact that meds are way overprescribed and most people would rather take a pill than deal with the problem or fix it, and you have the drug-taking problems we see today.

January 29, 2012

We need to get people off these drugs and have them instead facing their problems, rather than taking the easy option of a pill. James

December 8, 2011

Generally, the amount of people who take antideppressants looks too much. It’s almost “trendy” these days…
Personally, it took a long time to find me the right antideppressant. It really got me back on my feet. I’m alive again. For me it worth everything, even the many side affects.

January 12, 2012

When do you decide to wean off the meds?

November 30, 2011

Rising depression is not a surprise. Work too much = too much stress.

Angel Parker
November 28, 2011

The usage of antidepressants has risen dramatically in the last 5 years. The survey also reveals that females are more likely than males to take antidepressant medication.

November 10, 2011

Definitely works for me. After months of fighting to get up to “baseline” every morning and waking up to “racing thoughts” every night(note: started after the physical changes of menopause)I finally asked my internist about it. We agreed to do an empiric trial of Lexapro. That night I slept thru for the first time in ages and woke up feeling ready to just go ahead and live my life. Now that I’m working out regularly and really watching my diet (no sugar), I want to try to reduce or eliminate my dose. I was not depressed the entire day; just mornings and sleep were hell. So for me, depression is a neurochemical imbalance – a lack of serotonin, rather like a diebetic has a lack of insulin.

At home depression remedies
November 6, 2011

Is Homeopathy treatment effective for depression?

November 4, 2011

We’re an addicted society — and for the most part too lazy to get the sources of the depression cleared up — well, maybe not always too lazy — we are also uneducated, misdirected by the pharmaceutical industry, and left without work-able options. (Particularly, since insurance co.s refuse to pay for alternative measures …) It’s a big o’ mess ~

November 4, 2011

This is never a good news. Antidepressants we all now are addictive to some extent. Unless proper and consistent education is pushed through to the public, the increase of antidepressant use among Americans is going to be alarming than ever.
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Nick Outlaw
November 2, 2011

A direct correlation with the decrease in physical exercise. Studies show that regular exercise is as powerful and effective as antidepressants! Get moving and stay moving!

November 10, 2011

True. And an antidepressant can help keep you going until you finally start exercising!

November 1, 2011

This is no surprise to me. People today feel overwhelmed. With both men and women working, the demands of kids, careers, elderly parents are just too much. There’s no backup for most of us with families dispersed across the country, making for very stressful lives. Depression, fear, and anxiety are rampant in today’s workplace. SSRIs are effective for many people, and make it possible for them to cope with life. It’s unfortunate that the SSRIs have side effects and are very difficult to discontinue. A lot of people deal with life by drinking every day, some with SSRIs. Not much difference, to my mind. And that’s not a judgment – people have been looking to substances to help them cope with life’s stresses since time began.

November 1, 2011

I have suffered from Bipolar I Disorder all of my adult life. During the highs I am completely out of control and during the depressions I have tried to kill myself several times. The suffering I and my family went through before I was diagnosed and treated is unimaginable to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

My meds have literally saved my life and I don’t really suffer any side effects.While I think there is plenty of overdiagnoses and over medicating going on, there are many of us who are deeply thankful these drugs exist.

October 31, 2011

They are definitely over prescribed. I have seen first hand the terrible effects of prescription med abuse. The docs write handfuls of scripts to band-aid problems instead of getting to the root cause.

There needs to be more education before handing pills out. Accountability belongs to patient and doctor.

Addiction is the responsibility of the individual, as well as knowing when to seek help.
[URL removed by moderator]

Pat Carter
October 31, 2011

I dont blame the doctors – I blessed them when I was able to live without depression.
But if I had known that which wasn’t spoken of 18 years ago -when I began with them – that I would be unable to stop taking them, I would have tried to carefully wean myself after the crisis. I dont know really whether that would have been possible – even then – but I had no inkling I would be on them forever,

Len Lempa
October 31, 2011

Way overused. I work as a professional in the field for over 25 years now. The research shows that antidepressants are not as effective for mild to moderate depression as exercise and they come with a large host of side effects including the possibility of inducing manic episodes that do not go away just by stopping the medication. My view is that if you are not near suicidal thought you should not even consider taking one of them. Psychotherapy should be the first treatment for depression without a doubt. Look at the epidemiology for depression and bipolar disorder. The more we are using these meds the sicker our nation is becoming.

October 31, 2011

Open your eyes America. The effects of these legal drugs on your brain are as bad or worse than those of illegal drugs. And YES, they can be very addictive causing terrible long-term withdrawals that Big Pharma minimizes by calling discontinuation syndrome and/or relapse if it happens months after stopping the drug. Even those who have taken these meds for conditions such as IBS, migraines, cistitis, etc. suffer these terrible withdrawals with many becoming suicidal for the first tine in their lives. But of course, nobody studies this…People who have done cocaine or heroine in the past often say they had a relatively easier time detoxing from those illegal drugs than from antidepressants. The facts are out there all over the internet for those who want to look…why the FDA decides to take a blind eye is beyond me….just search ‘Prozac violence’ on Google and you will come up with over 4 million results! And no, it is no coincidence nor conspiracy theory!

Joel Rosenblum
October 31, 2011

Nature has the cure for your problems. Iboga is the name. Chew a little when you feel down or anxious. It reconnects your spirit to mother earth and humanity. Live, love, laugh, and down with materialism!

October 31, 2011

I have been depresses, and sought help professionally, then studied with the NIWH and learned that I had to take care of myself before I could help anyone else; so I started eating well, that is nutritionally, exercising at a gym were I would be with others, and walking my poor dog who I am sure got as depressed as I was. Now I met a wonderful man and am enjoying life again. just keep going, and realize you can best help yourself, and you must be with other people and do whatever it takes to be with other! Know that many of us care about you, too;)

paul freshnock
October 31, 2011

‘Legal’ prescription drugs and ‘Legal’ alcohol consumption is the demise of our society. Reduce each by 50%, you reduce crime by 80!! There are too many hippocrates and takers in all levels of government to honestly make that happen though. Greed runs rampant! Sad 🙁

Glenn Ruley
October 31, 2011

How much of Americans depression is self induced by overeating, making unhealthy food choices and lack of exercise? There are internet sites such as that will help people to understand everything from make healthy food choices, to understanding depression

Addictions such as food, narcotics (legal or illegal), alcohol, nicotine, are ways many people try to use to cope with depression. But these addiction will only compounds depression. 12 step programs work remarkably well to help people to overcome their addictions and lead a life that is more joyous happy and free. (Ask anyone who is currently working a 12 step program about their state of mind now, versus, prior to working their 12 step program.)

Americans are going to self destruct, we won’t have to worry about foreign enemies. We have become a nation where we expect a perscription to fix everything.

Americans are grossly over weight, creating a huge strain on our medical system for all of the aches, pains, surgeries and general poor health that accompanies obese people.

Why are pharaceutical companies allowed to advertise anyway? Shouldn’t our doctors know what we need? How much depression could we eliminate by eating healthy foods and getting enough excercise?

Are their studies out there comparing the results of eating healthy, exercise and/or overcoming addictions through a 12 step progam compared to taking medication only to overcome depression?

We can’t fix all our health problems by just perscribing more medication, especially anti-depressants. People will need to take better care of themselves, or we will all continue to face astronimical health costs, the healthy and unhealthy alike.

Teresea LePeat
October 31, 2011

Unfortunately Dave, this is often true. A situation that I often see is a parent bringing in a child who is misbehaving and insisting that he/she needs medication. The psychiatrist or other prescriber only has 15 minutes to an hour in the office with the child to make an evaluation. Mother, father or guardian then goes through a litany of all the negative behaviors of that child with the child present, (imagine how the child is feeling at this point). Often times a prescription is written. If an in-home therapists is prescribed, what is sometimes reported is limited structure, inconsistent enforcement of consequences for unwanted behaviors, unreasonable expectations or drug/alcohol use by parents. So in order to “get some control” of these kids who may not have serious mental illness, some well intentioned parents will turn to a doctor because their friend’s child is “on something” or they saw an add on TV. I believe that psychiatric medication for children should be a last resort and that behavioral therapies within the families be worked on first before a medication is prescribed. Of course there are children who have serious issues relating to mental health and trauma, but these children have disruptive behaviors in all environments. We don’t have long term effect studies on many of these drugs so lets not give them out like vitamins! Hope this helps.

Clover Greene
October 23, 2011

Just like brain targeting alcohol and illegal drugs, psychiatry’s drugs have the same mood altering methodology. At first the suppression of the feeling bad emotions from conscious awareness to the subconscious feels good. Just as alcoholics and illegal drug addicts, people become became addicted to psychiatric drugs — all the person needs is the pills. The person becomes an apathetic zombie. Just like with alcohol and illegal drugs, nothing escaping to the outside, underneath the chemical pressure cooker lid, in the subconscious, the suppressed emotions and growing despair from the physical drug damage builds. Psychiatry’s revolving door — the periodic exploding suicidal and homicidal drug rages.
I did the above. After 31 years of psychiatry I was incredibly still alive. Then a male nurse in an emergency room told me to go Alcoholics Anonymous. ‘They teach people how to get well there.” It only took me six months in this 12-step program. I learned how to be a non-violent, loving, cognitive-perception adult-minded person. Born into the spirit, I escaped psychiatry alive.

Laura Borst
October 23, 2011

It is interesting that women have higher rates of antidepressant use. Women have to often been socialized to seek and/or accept “help”. I also think that psychiatry pathologizes some experiences and/or emotions that most of us would regard as normal parts of life. Now, feeling sad is pathologized as “clinical depression” and feeling worried is often pathologized as an “anxiety disorder”, to name a few examples. Also, Dr. Marcia Angell,M.D.( a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine) authored a book titled “The Truth About Drug Companies”. In it, Angell mentioned how drug companies often alter data of the very studies they sponsor to make their drugs appear better. Drug company representatives have often given various gifts to doctors. The medical establishment in general seems to be biased towards using synthetic drugs. My mother told me that one person told her that he felt depressed, but that exercise alleviated his depression more than antidepressant drugs.

WakeUp America!
October 22, 2011

The article is a great expose,of the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Industry drug induced Coma, of the American Population.
See: and do a google search, Psychiatric Drugs,Lawsuits, Settlements, for a couple examples, of research. Just look up the name of each Psychiatric Drug information available, on the internet and their adverse effects and Warnings.

How really ‘Dumbed-Down’ have Americans become looking for that quick-fix ‘Majic Bullet’ drug that does not exist except for the profiteering of the Pharmaceutical Industry?

October 21, 2011

What puzzles me is that the largest study/analysis of the efficacy of SSRI’s, which was a “meta-analysis” of 35 separate published studies on SSRI’s (published in PLoS ONE in 2008) – concluded that these medications were just barely more effective than placebo, but not effective enough to be considered “clinically significant” other than for the most severely depressed patients. So according to the best scientific data, SSRI’s are really just placebos for most patients. Most physicians must be aware of that, but most patients apparently are not. So, is this really a good idea, when weighing the long term risks, side effects & costs of these medications?
I appreciate how powerful the placebo effect can be, but this sounds like bad medicine, & wasteful spending on a huge scale. Physicians should be guided by evidence-based guidelines, & the evidence for SSRI’s is very weak (for the vast majority of patients).

October 21, 2011

I was lunching with a group of women from work and I was amazed that literally everyone of us was on some type of anti-depressant. We all have pretty decent lives compared to most people in the world – I’m puzzled what is going on here? My doctor put me on Lexapro when I was going through menopause because I literally was melting down once a month and was in danger of destroying all of my relationships. It’s been a miracle for me – I fee like my usual self. But I’m not proud or happy about needing this to get through this period of my life.
Lyndsay, webmaster @ improve memory blog

October 21, 2011

If we are talking about statistics we have to be careful.

How much of the %400 increase is by more drug usage per person. There might be several issues: population growth, more competitive prices, better products, ease of getting the drug increase in welfare/income.

By eliminating these factors, we can talk about the %400 increase.

October 20, 2011

Take a look at:
We are setting ourselves up for true disaster.

We are a country where normal human reactions are now a “serious”
disease like diabetes than must be “treated” for life with
dangerous and highly addictive drugs.

Some portion of people on drugs are true depressives, but most seem to be people put on them during a crisis. When they want to come off they are discouraged “you need them for life”. Or worse
they come off cold turkey. Cold turkey withdrawal often gets you a
trip to the psych ward, a doubling of your prescription, some anti
psychotics thrown in for good measure and a stern warning to never
try to quit again.

We’ve taken >>NORMAL<< human responses to temporary crisis, and
turned them into a cash cow for the drug industry.

It is truly disgusting, far lower than your friendly neighborhood
heroin dealer. At least when you shoot up heroin you know where it
leads. Patients for the most part have no idea what they are in

Type "effexor withdrawal" into youtube to get some idea.

October 20, 2011

They have help me but if I’d known about the hangover effects of not taking it for a day I may had passed AND asked for an alternative choice. Talking about Cymbalta

October 20, 2011

They(doctors+pharm.companies) prescribe them to anyone who says they feel sad. Isn’t it normal to be sad sometimes? Do they want to turn people into zombies without emotions? And I hate that they do it to kids too!

October 21, 2011

Noone is forcing anyone to use drugs. Its your own will be choose to be sad or get drug assistance.

If someone is getting using drugs without a rational judgement then he/she is already a zombie.

You are talking about doctors as they are evil. Do you really think they are prescribing drugs to kids when they need just to do what? promote more pharm. company products?

I disagree with you.

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