Sunday, November 24, 2013
Use of anti-depressants rising...
Antidepressant use explodes among developed nations as Big Pharma pushes pills as magical problem solvers
Ethan A. Huff
Many of the world’s most unhappy and depressed people live in developed countries where rates of antidepressant use have skyrocketed over the past decade, says a new report issued by the U.S.-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The latest available figures reveal that more than 10 percent of adults in places like the U.S., Canada and Iceland now pop pills for their depression, a direct result of pharmaceutical companies pushing these drugs as some kind of magical problem solver.
The report, entitled “Health at a Glance,” explains that many doctors throughout the developed world are prescribing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, as a first option to their patients, including those with just mild or moderate depression. Many of these patients would do better to get counseling, adjust their diets or even seek out natural alternatives like healing cannabis, say experts. Yet SSRIs, which can make patients suicidal or even homicidal, are being handed out like candy.
Data collected by OECD shows that countries like the U.S., Australia, Canada, Iceland and a handful of other mostly European Nordic countries are leading the way in SSRI prescriptions, with more than one in 10 adults in these countries now taking one or more depression medications. And rapidly developing countries like China are not far behind, with growth rates in the antidepressant market now topping 20 percent or more annually.
Are people really more depressed in the developed world, or is the diagnosis criteria simply expanding? It appears to be a little bit of both, but as we have reported on previously, doctors are increasingly quick to prescribe SSRIs and other depression medications even when a legitimate depression diagnosis is absent. Mild depression symptoms or even just general unhappiness or discontentment do not warrant the use of such powerful drugs, yet many people are getting them from their irresponsible doctors.
“[R]ising consumption levels can … be explained by the extension of the set of indications of some antidepressants to milder forms of depression, generalized anxiety disorders or social phobia,” explains the OECD report. “These extensions have raised concerns about appropriateness.”
U.S., Iceland top list of countries doling out most antidepressants
As for which countries have the highest rates of antidepressant prescriptions, Iceland tops the list with 105.8 doses per day being prescribed for every 1,000 residents. Behind it is Australia with 88.9 doses per 1,000 residents, and Canada with 85.9 doses per 1,000 residents. And the U.S., which for some reason was not included in the survey, is actually right up there with Iceland at more than 100 doses per 1,000 residents.
“Antidepressants are widely oversubscribed to get rid of unhappiness,” says Professor Tim Cantopher, a consultant psychiatrist with the Priory Group in the U.K. “They were not designed for that. Unhappiness is part of the human condition.”
While some have tried to argue that the uptick in antidepressant prescriptions all around the world is a result of improved diagnosis, others say this is a sham. Pharmaceutical companies have simply gotten better at marketing their drugs and convincing doctors to prescribe them to their patients, especially those patients who live busy lives and believe they need some kind of quick fix.
“It’s much more likely a testament to the effective marketing by the pharmaceutical industry,” says Professor Tim Kendall, director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health in the U.K., about the antidepressant fraud. “I also wonder if, in better off countries, which OECD countries are, we don’t have time to be depressed and seek chemical solutions to ‘get rid of it.’”