With many individuals and groups working towards reducing stigma, plus the increase in awareness of mental health and knowledge of the efficacy of antidepressants, as well as with medications becoming cheaper and more widely available, the world is seeing an increase in the number of prescriptions for antidepressants. But when is it too much? And could these high numbers of patients on antidepressants actually indicate not necessarily a rise in depression or need, but rather society's dependence on and excessive and sometimes unnecessary use of these psychiatric medications?
In the article, "Are We Using Antidepressants to Paper Over The Cracks of a Fractured Society?" by Frankie Mullin (Guardian), these questions are explored further, in addition to investigating whether patients and physicians may be too quick to resort to medication when other options such as therapy may be best and more effective in the long term.
"While almost everyone with experience of antidepressants reports finding them useful, many could have made use of alternative forms of help. "We know that people go to the doctor because they're feeling low, and the reasons may be domestic violence, debt, bereavement, marriage breakup, difficulties from past trauma," says Corlett [the executive director of Mind]. "Some of these are practical and could have practical solutions, while some are deep-rooted psychological issues that need dealing with. Antidepressants are not always the answer"" (theguardian.com).
In addition, the article, "The Antidepressant Generation" by Doris Iarovici, explores the use of antidepressants among the young adult/college student population, which is often forgotten, yet as many news reports have been suggesting as of late, they are a group seeking medical attention more for support with their mental health issues. The article also delves into the idea of how society may be medicalizing sadness, particularly in early adulthood which is often fraught with transitions, big changes and challenges, and is a time characterized by immense personal growth and discovery.
"We walk a thinning line between diagnosing illness and teaching our youth to view any emotional upset as pathological. We need a greater focus on building resilience in emerging adults. We need more scientific studies — spanning years, not months — on the risks and benefits of maintenance treatment in emerging adults" (nytimes.com).