According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American doctors wrote 118 million scripts for antidepressants in 2005. Clearly, people are talking to their doctors about mental health in record numbers.
But feelings are mixed. There’s a lot of cynicism about what might be driving the trend, as reported in this CNN story:
Dr. Robert Goodman, an internist in New York City, says the real force behind skyrocketing antidepressant prescription rates is pharmaceutical marketing to doctors and to consumers. “You put those two together and you get a lot of prescriptions for antidepressants,” he said.
He questions whether all those prescriptions are necessary. “It’s hard to believe that number of people are depressed, or that antidepressants are the answer,” he said.
Speculation aside, however, we do know a thing or two about anti-depressants. And their checkered history suggests that they should not be treated as a universal cure-all.
- Ayd, F. J. (1991). The early history of modern psychopharmacology. Neuropsychopharmacology, 5(2), 71-84.
- Bullard, A. (2002). From vastation to Prozac nation. Transcultural Psychiatry, 39(3), 267-294.
- Carlsson, A. (1990). Early psychopharmacology and the rise of modern brain research. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 4(3), 120-126.
- Crossley, D. (1993). The introduction of leucotomy: A British case history. History of Psychiatry, 4(16, Pt4), 553-564.
- Finger, S. & Zaromb, F. (2006). Benjamin Franklin and Shock-Induced Amnesia. American Psychologist, 61(3), 240-248.
- Fink, M. (1984). Meduna and the origins of convulsive therapy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 141(9), 1034-1041.
- Gram, L. F. (1991). Concept d’antidépresseurs de seconde génération. / Concept of second generation antidepressant. L’Encéphale, 17(1), 115-116.
- Jacobsen, E. (1986). The early history of psychotherapeutic drugs. Psychopharmacology, 89(2), 138-144.
- Jefferson, J. W. (1989). Lithium: A therapeutic magic wand. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 50(3), 81-86.
- Johnson, F. N. (1992). The evolution of lithium therapy. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 6(2 Suppl), 325-329.
- Kelwala, S., Stanley, M., & Gershon, S. (1983). History of antidepressants: Successes and failures. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 44(5, Sect 2), 40-48.
- Kragh-Sorensen, P. & Bjerregaard Stage, K. (2004). The concept of melancholia and antidepressant treatment. Salud Mental, 27(5), 1-7.
- Sandler, M. (1990). Monoamine oxidase inhibitors in depression: History and mythology. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 4(3), 136-139.
Hirschfeld, R. M. A. (1998). American health care systems and depression: The past, present, and the future. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 59(Suppl 20), 5-10.