According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (1), 69 percent of patients that were prescribed antidepressant medications never met the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD). An additional 38 percent also didn't meet the criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder which are sometimes treated with antidepressant medications.
According to psychiatrist Julie Holland (2):
At least one in four women in America now takes a psychiatric medication, compared with one in seven men. Women are nearly twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of depression or anxiety disorder than men are. For many women, these drugs greatly improve their lives. But for others they aren’t necessary. The increase in prescriptions for psychiatric medications, often by doctors in other specialties, is creating a new normal, encouraging more women to seek chemical assistance. Whether a woman needs these drugs should be a medical decision, not a response to peer pressure and consumerism.
If you are dealing with anxiety or depression-like symptoms I think it is important to consider all your options. Sometimes jumping to a medication may be easier but it may not always be the right choice and all medications have side effects. In many cases cognitive behavioral therapy from a competent psychologist can be as effective as medications and may help patients make lasting changes in their lives.
Of course, each individual case is different and the advice in this post should not substitute for getting a consultation with your doctor. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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1. Yoichiro Takayanagi, MD, PhD; Adam P. Spira, PhD, et. al. Antidepressant Use and Lifetime History of Mental Disorders in a Community Sample: Results From the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study. J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(1):40–44 10.4088/JCP.13m08824.
2. Holland, Julie. Medicating Women's Feelings. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/opinion/sunday/medicating-womens-feelings.html?_r=0. Published Feb. 28, 2015. Accessed 10/26/2015.
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