Mental health in America is in decline, and while there is no one-size-fits-all reason for this, doctors and psychiatrists do offer a one-size-fits-all solution: antidepressants. The number of people who have taken antidepressants has soared some 65% in just the last 15 years, and the numbers continue to rise.
A new survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers insight into how this usage breaks down in our society. According to the latest statistics, use of antidepressants in the U.S. rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014. As of 2014:
• Nearly 1 in 8 Americans (13 percent) over the age of 12 reported being on antidepressant medication
• 1 in 6 women (16.5 percent) reported antidepressant use compared to 1 in 11 men (9 percent)
• About one-quarter of those who had taken an antidepressant in the past month reported being on them for 10 years or more
• Caucasians were more than three times more likely to use antidepressants than Blacks, Hispanics or Asians (16.5 percent compared to 5.6 percent, 5 percent and 3.3 percent respectively)
In Scotland, researchers also warn that antidepressant use among children under the age of 12 has risen dramatically. Between 2009 and 2016, use in this age group quadrupled. Use among children under 18 doubled in the same time frame.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) examined data in 25 countries to determine who uses the most antidepressants, revealing some interesting details. For example, in some countries, usage is also spiking, and of note is the fact that numbers are increasing among children and young adults as well.
In Germany, antidepressant use has risen 46% in just four years. In Spain and Portugal, it rose about 20% during the same period. Iceland led the pack in overall use with about one in ten people taking a daily antidepressant — but that figure may underestimate the actual rate of use, since that calculation isn’t restricted to just adults.
The United States leads the world in the consumption of antidepressants, followed closely by Iceland.
In the United Kingdom, antidepressants prescribed to children has soared a staggering 50% in recent years, highlighting a growing trend.
In the period examined, there was a 54% increase in the number of young people prescribed anti-depressants in the UK.
This is compared with rises of 60% in Denmark, 49 per cent in Germany and just 26 per cent in the US and 17 per cent in the Netherlands, the BBC said. Some of the factors that may be contributing to such a dramatic rise are:
• the fact that seeking help for mental health conditions is more socially acceptable
• people are more stressed than ever
• social media creates an environment of envy
• direct manufacturer to consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals
• an increased willingness by physicians to experiment with antidepressants as a remedy for many conditions other than strictly depression
There are many alternatives to taking antidepressants many of which involve lifestyle changes which are often much more difficult for people to achieve, especially when we’ve been trained to depend on pills as a simple solution for anything that ails us. Some even look at depression as a sickness in spiritual health, although this type of information is unlikely to be offered by typical physicians.