One in Four U.S. Women Take Medication for Mental Health Programs

In class, we discuss the evolution of mental health defenses in torts as society has come to recognize widespread emotional and behavioral problems. Like earlier studies, the latest report from Medco Health Solutions gives a glimpse into how common such problems are in our society with more than one in four American women taking at least one drug for conditions like anxiety and depression last year. This rate rose by 22 percent since 2001.

The highest group was women aged 45 and older

“In adults 20 to 44, use of antipsychotic drugs and treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) more than tripled, while use of anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, Valium and Ativan rose 30per cent from a decade ago.”

Women remain far more likely to use such medication than men, though the rate did increase for men.

Notably, some states were less medicated than others. The lowest rate of prescriptions was found in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where less than 15 per cent of people are using those medications.

Source: Daily Mail

37 thoughts on “One in Four U.S. Women Take Medication for Mental Health Programs”

  1. Before anyone starts on antidepressants, which are extremely difficult to stop taking, they should examine what else they are already taking, because chronic use of many common OTC drugs can cause depression: Tagamet, ibuprofen, and naproxen for example.

    It can take months of complete abstinence from these OTC’s before depression caused by such medications lifts, and the onset is so insidious that it’s difficult to detect, and made the more difficult when people have never heard of such a connection.

    Alberto is correct too: he reminds me that antidepressants are prescribed for things other than depression. They’re used for treatment of shingles, for example. The trouble is that, once used, withdrawal from things like Prozac is very difficult.

    Too often, in our HMO-nation, depression is ONLY treated with pharmaceuticals, as therapy is deemed to be too costly. Instead, patients are started on powerful and addictive brain-altering drugs while they are incapable of thinking through the consequences and alternatives. It seems to me that deciding to permanently alter a person’s brain chemistry ought to be the last resort, while all too often it is chosen as the first response.

  2. We all just overlook misandry. No need to comment.

    It’s not like anyone said all women were bitches or worse. It’s all in good humor, so a little bit of throwing stones at men is all in good fun, right Oro? Right Swarthmore Mom?

  3. Thanks to all of you who understand that depression is in fact a medical condition. Like other medical conditions, there are different levels of severity, and treatments that may help some people won’t help others.

  4. Oro,
    I agree with you. If you don’t fight for your kid, who will? Never give up on them or on finding a better solution for them.

  5. Bdaman asks “Is America the most medicated nation on Earth?”

    Don’t forget booze. Anyone who has more than two drinks at a time is probably self-medicating.

  6. OS says, “Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in adults, according to the CDC.”

    Among teenagers, suicide is the third leading cause. What with the hormonal changes coupled with lack of perspective and coping skills, teen depression quickly becomes deadly. That’s why bullying is so dangerous — the kids don’t kill themselves because they were bullied, but becasue the bullying resulted in depression.

    If you find yourself saying, “It’s just a phase . . .it happens to everyone . . . it’s no big deal . . . you’ll get over it,” then back the truck up and start over. Seek the advice of a counselor — it’s cheaper than a funeral.

    Fight for your kid, let him see that you really care — that does wonders in itself.

  7. I have a headache, take a pill
    I have a fever, take a pill
    I have a stomach ache, take a pill
    My son has ADT, take a pill
    I need to loos weight, take a pill


    Is America the most medicated nation on Earth? Could be, according data just released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing that at least half of all Americans takes at least one prescription drug, with one in six taking three or more medications.

  8. at
    “As the Brain Withers “(Book Review by Brenda Rossini)

    Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, by Robert Whitaker (Crown Publishers: NY, 2010).
    The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, by Irving Kirsch (Basic Books: 2010).

    Lithium, Wellbutrin, Xanax, Prozac, Risperdal, Paxil, Zoloft, Oxycontin, Zyprexa, Klonopin, Tegretol, Lamictal, Ritalin. Are these psychotropics familiar as pals to you, to members of your family, and to friends? Check the medicine cabinets.

    Two new books about America’s fascination with prescription pills will leave you decidedly uneasy.

    Side effects: flushed face, retention of fluid (particularly in wrists, fingers, ankles), green teeth, dry mouth and bad breath, your hair a ball of frizz and some male or female pattern baldness, brittle bones, babbling speech patterns, deep voice register, desiccated skin, roly-poly physique, bouts with pneumonia from the edema (fluid-buildup), fuzzy thinking, sexual dysfunction, cholesterol and blood sugar rate spikes, lethargy and sedation.

    Habits: You become a doctor shopper, getting more and more prescriptions. You keep exquisite track of your pills. Some patients take six or more drugs a day. Cocktails of drugs ward off side effects. Users rationalize or imagine ailments such as anxiety, depression, the ubiquitous back or spinal pain, addiction, bipolar illness.

    In the 1950s John Çheever and John O’Hara novels of Mad Men life, everyone drank or smoked to quell the demons. Whitaker’s book traces the history of America’s fixation on meds from the era of the JFK/Jackie and celebrity Hollywood’s B12 booster shots through the 80s and its black beauties, dexedrine and amphetamines of blessed memory– which have since been adjudged as dangerously addictive. Yet, doctors continue to dispense new varieties of mind-numbing, addicting meds.

    Can this country‘s addictions, obsessions, eating disorders, panic attacks and so forth be any more sad than famine- or war-caused starvation, suffering and trauma? Or, do our peculiar disorders– which ostensibly require meds—have a biological and not environmental determinant? Is this plausible? Whitaker disputes the origination of chemical instability in the brain. The chemical effect of the meds is what causes the instability.
    Depression was benign back in the 70s, a temporary psychological event, curable and treatable. Today, it has emerged as the pernicious indicator for an antidepressant prescription. It is the “Gateway to Bipolar.” Ten percent of Americans over the age of 6 take antidepressants. To what do we attribute this invidious prevalence in this country? Illegal and legal drugs greased the road to licit antidepressants. Our reliance arose out of the discovery of new toxic drugs. Psychiatric purposes were ambiguous alleges Irving Kirsch. He writes “Why Were the Drugs Approved? Voodoo Science.” Meds don’t really “work”…they won’t ease you from your depressive mood…they’ll only dull your senses and give you an unrealistic sense of well-being…which is what you, the patient and user, really want. Notwithstanding flawed clinical trials and data, positive studies were published in medical journals. Publicity followed and the psychiatric profession was transformed.
    One of the treacherous nebulous diagnoses was childhood ADHD. Children were soon dosed with meds and Nyquil into alternate manic and medicated states. The child’s still-developing brain was then on the path to bipolarism, a lifetime of psychological issues, doctors and meds. “Even if the offending antidepressant is discontinued, that patient is likely to have recurrences of bipolar illness.” Seniors’ brains and bones, though less able to withstand chemical effects, are not exempted. Seniors are over-prescribed meds to treat sadness, grief, the stress of medical problems and other factors inherent in the aging process. We can’t dispute that medical providers are attracted to healthy private and Medicare health insurance.
    For Kirsch, the use of meds has also evolved into a social connector—family and friends become part of a conforming “medicine”-taking group and there is no pressure to break the habit. His wry recourse is this natural somnambulant: “Brahms is the best antidepressant.”
    The Cult of Pharmacology, by Richard DeGrandpre (Duke Univ. Press: 2006) preceded Whitaker and Kirsch on the “ongoing drug drama.” People who use prescription medicines feel they are discriminating. They intone that meds are “doctor-prescribed,” whereas, cocaine, heroin, meth and other stimulants are illicit and should be punished by the authorities. But the same addictive desires for euphoria swamp all drug use, licit or illicit. Neither Whitaker nor Kirsch ascribe to DeGrandpre’s hope-filled disclaimer that, like alcohol usage, pharmacological usage is marked by moderation.

    When is your prescription pill use a drug habit? According to Whitaker, you will function abnormally once on a pattern of ingesting meds. The toxicity will expose users to more debilitating diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and brittle bones. Studies reveal a link between antidepressant use by pregnant women and autism and other disorders in their offspring, such as anorexia and bulimia. Some users go to extremes and undergo sundry surgeries to score more prescriptions. Some engage in self-inflicted injuries, like accidental kitchen-knife slicing. The user’s daily life tends towards the chaotic and holds a world view that is paranoid or conspiratorial. Many are unable to hold a job. Mental disabilities are so endemic in the U.S. that 1 in 76 Americans is qualified to collect disability benefits.

    How easy is it to kick the habit? You may never be cured. Withdrawal symptoms can last for months and include sleeplessness, crying spells, dizziness, irritability, and anxiety. These are symptomatic as well of hard-drug withdrawal…addiction. Kirsch strongly advocates giving up the drug habit but with a doctor’s guidance and reference to Coming Off Antidepressants, by Joseph Glenmullen (Harvard Univ. Press: 2006). Physical exercise is far more reliable in alleviating depression…tough, full body regimens as well as determination and self-discipline.

    For those content with their daily intake, a disquieting scenario is foretold in a medical journal (for which I was once an editor): “The use of antipsychotic drugs is associated with shrinkage of the brain…and, they cause the prefrontal cortex of the brain to slowly atrophy.” (Dr. Nancy Andreasen et al, “Long-term Antipsychotic Treatment and Brain Volumes,” Archives of General Psychiatry, AMA: Feb. 2011).

    Thus, expect your brain to wither like a winter-dried nut.
    Reviewed by Brenda Rossini, OCWW Board Member

  9. OS:

    How True:

    “However, it is one that left untreated affects not only the patient, but everyone around them.”

  10. guilhem, I am a forensic psychologist and am confident in confirming that you are not only not a psychologist, but are completely unfamiliar with even basic research into the causes and treatment of depression.

    A couple of basic truths. If left untreated, situational depression or anxiety can evolve into a permanent condition. Depression that results in lower levels of serotonin, over a period of time, tends to become a permanent condition. Take an example. There is a bad situation, say the death of a loved one. The grief (a normal reaction) is commingled with depression (an abnormal but not unexpected reaction). If the depression is treated promptly with a medication that elevates serotonin, it will clear up as soon as the immediacy of the situation gets better with time.

    If left untreated and it does not clear up on its own, then the depression will tend to become permanent. Most research suggests that after about six months the lowered serotonin levels tend to stay that way and will not rebound. That is why the DSM-IV committee says that a treating psychiatrist or psychologist should change the diagnosis from ‘acute’ to ‘chronic’ after the depression has lasted six months.

    Depression is one of the most easily diagnosed and easily treated of all mental health problems. However, it is one that left untreated affects not only the patient, but everyone around them. Living with a depressive is about as bad as living with an alcoholic. The depression pervades everything. Also, depression is one of those mental illnesses that can result in death. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in adults, according to the CDC.

  11. guilhem – not only are you not a psychologist you appear to lack knowledge of the cause of depression. Perhaps you could read up on it & try to see if you have the capability for empathy.

  12. Studies like those only tell you how many people are taking medication; they don’t tell you how many people suffer mental health. Many people take anti-depressants for problems other than depression. I was once prescribed an anti-depressant for back pain, for example. And everyone I know who takes anti-depressants (I know several people) is not depressed but stressed. The pharmaceutical companies push doctors to prescribe these very popular drugs.

  13. I think those problems are mostly due to people making themselves sick out of self-pity, imagining problems and making them real. The “problem” is spreading because people consider it a problem, adding to the spiral. I think if those people focused less on their belly buttons and more on doing stuff, they would feel all the better for it.

    I am not a psychologist though.

  14. There are times when people SHOULD be depressed–like when their country has been sold out from under them to the highest bidders, and when they learn of how many people face destitution and hunger and homelessness and lack of medical care, while the wealthy go laughing all the way to the bank.

    When depression is situational, medication is merely a way to keep order in the society, and if 1/4 of female adults is taking medication for depression, a large portion are being maltreated with inappropriate medication.

    Sure, depression is grim, and clinical depression does need to be treated, but if such a large proportion of the populace is mentally ill, it suggests that it’s actually the culture that is mentally ill–and the culture will not receive treatment as long as the the populace is chemically pacified. Those with situational depression would be better served by facing the causes of their depression and using that as motivation for working toward systemic change.

    Something tells me there’s a connection between antidepressant prescribing data and the near absence of meaningful full-throated dissent in this country during the last 20-30 years. Just as nearly every toddler I see these days has a pacifier-in-mouth except while eating (and a parent wearing earbuds), there are far too many adults who see antidepressants as the “solution” to the distress they’re feeling–it’s the easy way out, but it’s also societal suicide.

  15. Given what I suspect is a huge disparity in the demographics of who is taking medication or who has the ability or inclination to be seen for mental health issues, I would be wary of any mental health defense based on medication or diagnosis.

    Chances are, if you believe this shit is even real, and not just a fad, that it’s the people not on medication or undiagnosed that have the real, unaddressed, issues.

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