by Kalee Brown, February 28th, 2017
A worrisome trend has emerged in the last few decades that many physicians are choosing to ignore: As the amount of psychiatric drug prescriptions increase, our mental health declines. It’s time we swallow the hard pill and ask ourselves, are psychiatrists doing more harm than good?
I know that, to some of you, this question seems absurd. Why would licensed medical practitioners purposefully harm their patients? But that isn’t really what’s happening here, as the issue relates more to the over-prescription and misuse of mental health drugs, and the corporately funded miseducation that prompts this behaviour, than any malicious intentions on the part of individual people.
The “Inconvenient Truth” About Mental Illness and Prescriptions
In 2013, approximately 17% of Americans were prescribed at least one mental health drug, in comparison to only 10% in 2011. The amount of people on psychiatric prescription drugs has drastically increased over the past 10 years and now 12% of adult Americans are taking some form of antidepressants alone (source).
It’s not just adults affected by the over-prescription of these drugs; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 11% of children between the ages of 4 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. However, the American Psychiatric Association maintains that even though only 5% of American children suffer from the disorder, the diagnosis is actually given to around 15% of American children. This number has been steadily rising, jumping from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007. The simple reason for this increase? Profit.
However, despite the fact that the number of mental health drugs prescribed increases every year, our mental health has actually decreased. The amount of people who are considered to be so disabled by mental illness that they require Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) has increased by almost two and a half times between 1987 and 2007, from one in 184 Americans to one in seventy-six. Not surprisingly, the rise in the number of children affected by this is even worse, with a thirty-five-fold increase in that same timeframe (source). So, if the number of prescriptions are increasing, why is our mental health declining?
This phenomenon is what Thomas Insel, former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, refers to as the “inconvenient truth” of mental illness. Suicide rates per 100,000 people have reached a 30-year high and substance abuse, especially with opiates, has become a national epidemic.
Edmund S. Higgins, MD and Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, explains, “More people are getting treatment and taking medications today than ever before, so what is going on? I would argue that a lack of precision and objectivity in diagnosing and treating mental illness has stalled our progress.” Furthermore, Big Pharma has played a crucial role in creating the mental health drug epidemic.Source: Psychiatrists: Why It’s Time To Face The Possibility That Medications Hurt More Than They Help | Stillness in the Storm