One in ten on anti-depressants

A report out today confirms a massive increase in prescribing antidepressants in the US. Between 1996 and 2005, the rate of antidepressant treatment increased from 5.84 percent to 10.12 percent or from an estimated 13.3 million to 27 million individuals. This situation is likely to have got even worse since 2005. Antidepressants are now the most commonly prescribed class of medications in the United States.

What’s more among antidepressant users, the percentage who were also prescribed antipsychotic medications increased from 5.46 percent in 1996 to 8.86 percent in 2005, but fewer also underwent psychotherapy (31.5 percent vs. 19.87 percent). Anti-psychotic drugs such as Zyprexa are now in the top ten selling drugs. Anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs are bringing in over $30 billion dollars a year for the pharmaceutical industry.

“Several factors may have contributed to this trend, including a broadening in concepts of need for mental health treatment, campaigns to promote mental health care and growing public acceptance of mental health treatments,” the authors write in the Archives of Psychiatry (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66[8]:848-856.), who publish their results this month. In the US there has been a massive increase in doctors diagnosing bipolar disorder, allowing them to then prescribe both an antidepressant and antipsychotic drug. Exactly the same trends are occurring in the UK. Given that both antidepressants and antipsychotic medication can be addictive, with terrible withdrawal effects motivating continuation, one has to question whether modern psychiatry has made a Faustian bargain, swapping short-term improvement for long-term drug dependency at a scale never before seen.

If anti-depressants really were the best treatment this might be understandable but the evidence clearly shows that there are many safer and more effective alternatives including 5-HTP, omega 3 fish oil, chromium, a low GL diet, as well as psychotherapy and exercise. If you’d like to find out more about natural and nutritional approaches to depression see my special report Depression: The Nutrition Connection or read Optimum Nutrition for the Mind. At the Brain Bio Clinic in Richmond near London we use a combination of all these natural approaches helping people to no longer need medication. What have you found that works?