It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society: US antidepressant use doubles

Tuesday, August 04, 2009
This morning Reuters reports that antidepressant use in the US more than doubled between 1996 and 2005, from 13 to 27 million Americans. That amounts to about 20% of the US workforce. Researchers speculate that one reason for the increase in legal drug use is that Americans more readily "accept diagnosis of depression."

Hmmm....I wonder why that would be? Oh, here it is, right in the article:

Although there was little change in total promotional spending for antidepressants between 1999 ($0.98 billion) and 2005 ($1.02 billion), there was a marked increase in the percentage of this spending that was devoted to direct-to consumer advertising, from 3.3 percent ($32 million) to 12 percent ($122.00 million),

Advertising. Hey you -- feeling a little blue? Can't seem to make ends meet? Paycheck shrinking while the price of everything is going up? Does it seem like society crumbling before your very eyes? Don't worry! Be happy. The corporate drug pushers have just the thing for you to forget all your worries and get back to work as a productive member of society.

More than 164 million prescriptions were written in 2008 for antidepressants, totaling $9.6 billion in U.S. sales, according to IMS Health.

As a matter of fact, if you can't find a job, there may be one waiting for you in pharmaceutical sales. This is big business, and one with ever growing needs:

"Not only are more U.S. residents being treated with antidepressants, but also those who are being treated are receiving more antidepressant prescriptions," they added.

- - - - -

I recently made a new friend - a 23 year old kid from one of the best West Coast schools (Stanford) - who's been on antidepressants & anti anxiety medication since his freshman year of high school. He's out here in Boston doing a summer internship at a non-profit. He desperately wants to get off the drugs, but he is surprisingly candid about his hopelessness.

"I don't think I ever would have finished college without the drugs," he told me. "College seems like such a waste of time. Most people there don't care about anything but graduating." Now, faced with the prospect of entering the workforce, he's equally uninspired. On paper, he looks great - good school, good grades, good internship at a prestigious non-profit. Inside he's struggling with the decision of whether to continue being "a productive member of society," in the eyes of his friends, family & former teachers. To him it is a path that is empty and meaningless. There is the pressure to get a "good" job that offers "insurance" - both "security" and health insurance, so he can continue with his medication.

The sad part about the drugs is that they don't really work, and scientists don't really know what the long term consequences might be. What they allow is for patients to make it through another day as a productive member of society.

If this many of our citizens (20% of the workforce) needs drugs to be "well adjusted," something is profoundly wrong with our society, and its getting worse.

- - -

p.s. - Thanks to Daily Paul user krusty, for letting me borrow his Krishnamurti signature line for the title.
blog comments powered by Disqus