Are you taking an antidepressant? If the answer is “yes”, believe me, you’re not alone…
Did you know that 23% of women in their 40s and 50s take antidepressants? In fact, women are more likely to take antidepressants than men. Antidepressant use does not appear to be affected by income status, and in the past 20 years, the prescription and use of antidepressants have increased dramatically to the point that one in ten Americans is currently taking some version of an antidepressant. This is regardless of age, sex or income.
Are we appropriately managing and relieving depression, or are we as a nation being misdiagnosed and needlessly over-medicated? Who is responsible for the surge in antidepressant use; are the pharmaceutical companies responsible for the huge increase in the use of antidepressants? Are the benefits of antidepressants so impressive that they outweigh the side effects? What are the side effects?
The side effects of antidepressant medication vary with the prescribed drug and the sensitivity of the patient taking the drug. They can include weight gain (a common side effect), sleep disturbances, vivid dreams, sexual dysfunction, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, dry mouth, constant yawning, a feeling of being muddle-headed, not thinking clearly or quickly and not assimilating information well.
All these side effects are just lovely. Weight gain by itself can be depressing to someone who is already depressed. Sounds like vicious cycle to me.
So, the question becomes: is it a good thing so many Americans are taking antidepressants? Many health professionals would say “yes”. Their perspective would be that depression has been undertreated and that antidepressants are effective. Their rationale is that depression is common, and certainly in the past few years, the economic struggles experienced by many have added to our stress and anxiety. Television ads tout the benefits of antidepressants, but if you really pay attention, happy music is played while all the horrendous possible side effects you can experience are listed.
Elderly patients are at risk to be misdiagnosed. I can tell you from personal experience that my mother, who was one of the most cheerful, level and not depressed people I have ever known was put on antidepressants after she began having strokes and was diagnosed with dementia. They had her on such a mixed cocktail of prescriptions, it’s a wonder they didn’t kill her with the drugs they were prescribing to “help her”… In fact, studies show that six out of seven patients age 65 and older who had been given a diagnosis of depression did not fit the criteria.
Big DUH!…good for the big pharma, but not for the patient.
It’s important to understand and accept that you will not feel happy all the time. Don’t expect to; it’s not normal! Some days you just feel crappy. Feelings of sadness, the stresses of daily life and relationship problems can all cause feelings of upset or sadness that may be passing and may not last long. Unfortunately, we Americans have become more and more willing to use medication to address our issues rather than confront them and deal with them head on.
I think it’s time to find alternative ways to deal with “depression” rather than subsidizing big pharma at the risk of our long term health and well being!
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