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Modern society has come to rely on medication to restore the body and mind to best functionality. Antidepressant medications, which are used to treat depression, have gained increased popularity in the United States. These drugs have taken the title of “most frequently prescribed drug”, suggesting that the US might be overusing them.
Use of Antidepressants
Antidepressants are used when a person experiences depression of a prolonged period and this depression interferes with the person’s ability to carry out daily activities or enjoy himself (Rees 335). They interact with the brain leading to a change of moods and bringing about emotional stability.
Antidepressants take away the feeling of depression in a person and help them to feel the way they did before they became depressed. These medications can also block symptoms of panic therefore enabling a person to carry out with the daily tasks effectively.
Americans and the “Happy Pill”
There is a significant overuse of Antidepressants in the US. A report by the CDC revealed that antidepressants were “the third most common prescription drug taken by Americans of all ages in 2005-2008” (1). Physicians are recommending and prescribing antidepressants as treatment for depression and insomnia at a higher rate than then did in the past.
Attarian and Schuman observe that in the US, antidepressants have become some of the most commonly recommended and prescribed treatments for insomnia and depression complaints (18). This observation is supported by the CDC which documents that in 2005, about 5% of the total drug prescriptions by physicians all over the US were for antidepressants.
Reasons for Increased Use
A number of reasons have contributed to the significant increase in antidepressants use by Americans. Antidepressants create an illusion of happiness leading to their overuse by Americans whenever they feel sad or low. Americans have developed the habit of using medication to deal with mild depression or general low feelings that do not require the use of antidepressant medications. Rees notes that antidepressants provide a quick means for a person to feel better (Rees 335).
The decrease in the quality of life for most people has increase risk of depression and the subsequent use of antidepressants. With the high levels of stress that people experience, they are likely to experience sadness and frustration that lead to depression at higher rates (Attarian and Schuman 17). This overall decrease in quality of life for many people in the US has contributed to the overuse of antidepressants.
There has been a dramatic shift towards the use of antidepressants to cure conditions such as insomnia and anxiety disorders. While therapy was the most common means of dealing with anxiety disorders, there has been a trend towards using medication to deal with these conditions.
With insomnia, in the past alcohol and sleeping pills were the most commonly used hypnotics among insomniacs. However, since the 1990s, antidepressants have become the preferred means of treatment of insomnia (Attarian and Schuman 18). Interestingly there is no hard evidence regarding the efficacy of these medications in dealing with insomnia.
Antidepressants use in the US is at an all time high. This is a troubling thing since these over prescription might decrease the effectiveness of the drugs. Reliance on the drugs to treat anxiety conditions even when other option such as therapy might be better is detrimental to the well being of the patient. Steps should therefore be taken to reduce the overuse of antidepressants in the US.
Attarian, Hrayr and Schuman Catherine. Clinical Handbook of Insomnia. NY: Springer, 2010.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over: United States, 2005–2008. Oct. 2011. Web. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db76.htm
Rees, Alan. Consumer Health USA. Boston: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997.