Many more Americans have been using prescription drugs to treat mental illness since 1996. In fact, 73 percent more adults and 50 percent more children are using drugs to treat mental illness now than were doing so in 1996.
Among adults over 65, use of so-called psychotropic drugs — which include antidepressants and antipsychotics — doubled between 1996 and 2006.
The findings come from several large public surveys of health in the United States, including from the National Center for Health Statistics, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Social Security Administration.
Health Affairs (Project Hope) May-June 2009; 28(3):637-48
|Dr. Mercola’s Comments:|
Depression, which nearly always has some sort of unrepaired emotional short-circuiting, can have a devastating impact on your life. However, using antidepressants as the primary (or only) treatment option is simply not something I advise, especially if the one suffering from depression is a child or teenager.
Unfortunately, few people realize that depression is not the same as actual mental illness, and the statistics for drug sales show it.
Psychotropic drugs have become a goldmine for drug makers. Through savvy marketing aimed at consumers and physicians, people are now brainwashed to believe they require the use of some expensive and potentially toxic prescription pharmaceutical to deal with their emotions.
Antidepressants – The Most Prescribed Drugs in the U.S.
As reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, 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.
Out of 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals in 2005, 118 million were for antidepressants.
According to the authors of the above study, the increase in antidepressant drug prescriptions is in part due to expanded insurance coverage and greater familiarity with the drugs among primary care doctors.
What this really translates into is that the right palms have been sufficiently greased by the pharmaceutical giants, so their drugs are now covered at maximum price by insurance companies, and their sales reps have done a marvelous job of spreading propaganda to doctors who are frequently too pressed for time to do their own research and far more easily influenced by this persuasion then even they realize.
Whereas severe depression can indeed progress to suicide if left untreated, antidepressant drugs have been shown to CAUSE both suicidal and homicidal thoughts and behaviors. For example, seven of the last 12 school shootings were done by children who were either on antidepressants, or going through withdrawal.
UK banned nearly all antidepressants in kids in 2004, due to the increased risk of suicide. The United States, however, is still allowing Big Pharma to rake in the profits from these deadly, mind-altering drugs. And, they keep thinking up ways to push them on even more people who do not truly need them, such as pregnant women who are deemed potential candidates for post-partum depression.
Science has Already Proven Antidepressants Ineffective
The drastic increase in antidepressant drug use is really quite perplexing, considering the fact that numerous studies have already shown that up to 75 percent of the benefits of antidepressants can be duplicated by a placebo.
Since depression can be a terminal illness, why would you want to take a drug that would actually increase your risk of killing yourself or someone else?
Your physical health can also be severely compromised when taking these drugs. Studies have shown antidepressants can harm your immune system, and raise your risk of type 2 diabetes by two to three times in high-risk groups.
So Why are Prescriptions for Antidepressants Skyrocketing?
Last year, the state of Texas sued a pharmaceutical company for using false advertising and improper influence to get its products on the now-mandatory adult protocol, the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP). (Any maker of a psychiatric drug wants to get their drug on that list.)
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the newer drugs chosen for the protocol are ten times more expensive than traditional drugs, but have no substantial advantage.
In short, shenanigans like this — using false advertising, and unduly influencing key positions — likely have a lot to do with the dramatic increase in antidepressant sales.
Controversy about off-label promotion of psychotropics in children has also broken out across the U.S.
For example, late last year, New Jersey state assemblyman Michael Coherty wrote to the state department of health, asking about the policy that permitted the NJ Medicaid program to spend $73 million between 2000 and 2007 on antipsychotic drugs for children under the age of 18 although the drugs are not FDA approved for pediatric use.
Lawsuits are pending in several states over the issues of improper marketing and failure to disclose serious side effects, which caused state programs to overpay for drugs like Zyprexa, Seroquel, and Risperdal.
It’s not just the drugs prescribed, but the diagnoses that are in question, particularly in children. Six million children have been diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders warranting drug treatment — 1 million with bipolar disorder, long believed to occur only in adults.
Psychiatric Drugs for Kids – A Prescription for Disaster
In 2007 alone, half a million children and teenagers were given at least one prescription for an antipsychotic, including 20,500 under the age of six. American children are also about three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe.
And in one of the most defenseless groups — children in the foster care system — kids as young as three years old are screened for mental illnesses and put on psychiatric drugs for disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression with horrifying frequency.
For example, among children in foster care:
- 55 percent in Florida
- 60 percent in Texas, and
- 75 percent in Massachusetts are on psychiatric drugs
Psychotropic drugs, by definition, chemically alter your mind, emotions, and behavior. Many commonly prescribed drugs, such as Prozac, Paxil, Ritalin, Zyprexa, Depakote and others are not approved for use in children. The fact that they’re used off-label is alarming considering that even when prescribed properly, the side effects of these drugs are dizzying:
- Anxiety, depression, impulsivity and obsession
- Anger, compulsion, temper tantrums and mood instability
- Social awkwardness, withdrawal, tics
- Sleep disturbances
- Separation anxiety
- Behavior problems
- Inattention and distractibility
Getting to the Root of Your Mental or Emotional Health Problem
Like many of you, I have been personally affected by depression. Someone very near and dear to me suffered from this problem many years ago, and actually made several unsuccessful suicide attempts that were truly devastating.
Ultimately, it was energetic techniques that assisted this person in full recovery from depression. A very advanced form of cranial osteopathy was administered by a skilled physician. However, there are other similar tools, which I’ve found can make an enormous difference if you suffer from depression or any other kind of emotional dysfunction.
For serious problems, it would be prudent to not treat yourself with energy tapping techniques but to contact a trained health care professional. Here’s a helpful list of certified practitioners worldwide.
I strongly believe that energy psychology is the single most important tool to resolve depression, but its effectiveness will certainly be significantly improved if combined with an appropriate Nutritional Type diet, along with dramatically lowered intake of sugar, grains, and processed foods.
This is particularly true for children. I have treated many hundreds of children with behavioral and mental disorders and have consistently seen them improve once underlying toxicities and food changes were addressed.
Artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives can have a very negative impact on your mental state as well as your physical health.
A powerful essential for good mental health is omega-3 fats, so you’ll want to make sure you take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement like krill oil. If you haven’t read Dr. Stoll’s enlightened book on the topic of treating depression with omega-3, then I highly recommend it.
Last but certainly not least, exercise is clearly one of the best-kept secrets for depression. Says Dr. James Gordon, a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety and psychological trauma:
“What we’re finding in the research on physical exercise is that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed… Physical exercise changes the level of serotonin in your brain… increases your level of “feel good” hormones, the endorphins. You can actually change your brain with exercise. So it’s got to be part of everybody’s treatment, everybody’s plan.”