Hankering for a powerful mood-altering drug? Ask, and ye shall receive!
Primary care docs are prescribing antidepressants so easily that they're practically giving them away--and a new study shows that millions of Americans are now taking these meds despite never actually being diagnosed with depression.
Researchers looked at data on more than 20,000 adults who participated in the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiologic Surveys between 2001 and 2003, and found 10 percent were given a prescription for an antidepressant over the previous year.
That's consistent with other recent studies and surveys, which have found close to 30 million Americans taking these meds.
But the researchers also found that more than a quarter of the people on antidepressants were never diagnosed with depression, anxiety problems, or any of the other common excuses used to put patients onto these drugs.
That's more than 7 million people taking antidepressants with no actual diagnosis.
But that's only the beginning--because half of all antidepressant users have never even seen a mental health professional despite the fact that they're taking a drug for a supposed mental health issue.
And that means primary care docs such as family physicians are to blame here.
You have to be a little sympathetic towards them--after all, most are met daily by patients with drug demands based on the latest commercial, and many patients won't see a specialist if you drive them there yourself.
Still, whatever happened to "just say no?"
No one's forcing docs to write all these prescriptions--they just seem to be taking the easy way out. The researchers behind the new study say they believe many doctors now offer antidepressants for relatively minor and temporary personal issues that often heal with nothing more than a little time.
But time won't heal all wounds, and that's just as true of the psychological ones-- but that's still no reason to turn to meds.
Some people suffer from depression and other mood disorders due to poor diet and nutritional deficiencies or a hormonal imbalance, and a skilled natural physician can help get to the bottom of it.
Other people can benefit from ordinary talk therapy, which has proven to be at least as effective as some of the most powerful psychiatric meds on the planet-- with none of the side effects.
Antidepressants, on the other hand, come with a risk of everything from sexual problems and personality changes right up to suicide.