Anti-Depressant Use Has Doubled in the United States – Study Finds

The fast pace of modern life along with tense war-time environments and a growing financial crisis might be natural precursors to mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety, but along with these sometimes difficult conditions, possibly inadequate treatment deliveries are in the increase, as well. Though a staggering body of research continually suggests that psychotherapy is able to deliver effective results for a range of mental health issues, often with better results than pharmaceuticals, psychiatric drug use is on the rise in the US. In fact, a recent study has found, the rates of prescription and subsequent sales have doubled since 1996.

The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, investigated data based on psychiatric prescriptions –over 164 million of which were doled out in 1998– and expenditure records, concluding that by 2005, 27 million people, or ten percent of the US population, had been taking Prozac, Paxil, and other drugs, up from 13 million people in 1996. Additionally, the study found that while pharmaceutical firms’ marketing funds did not show a similar increase, the amount allotted to direct-to-consumer advertising, such as plugs in magazines, on television, at bus stops, and other public venues, quadrupled.

This rise in the use of psychiatric drugs likely presents a challenge for mental health professionals focused on the delivery of meaningful, beneficial psychotherapy. While millions of Americans seek to address their mental health concerns with pills, a considerable amount may turn away from psychotherapy, giving the industry extra incentive to spread its message of long-lasting and deep results that empower people to create the change they seek –with or without the help of drugs.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • jackie j

    jackie j

    August 4th, 2009 at 7:39 AM

    i guess it’s worse than i presumed… terrible news.

  • Richard


    August 4th, 2009 at 7:40 AM

    We are a drug addicted nation…

  • Jim Gaudet

    Jim Gaudet

    August 4th, 2009 at 8:49 PM

    Richard is so right. Pharma runs the world. Legal drugs pushed out by these big guys. They give doctors “extras” to sell their meds, making the doctors not offer the best solution to their patients.

    Good luck finding a doctor who doesn’t get these benefits..

  • Shannon


    August 5th, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    From a positive point of view maybe this means that more of us have become more comfortable with recognizing when we have a problem and are more willing to ask for help. That does not mean that medication is the answer for everyone but it could explain some of the number increases. Just a thought.

  • Samuel


    August 11th, 2009 at 11:46 AM

    That’s a good point Shannon. The quadrupling of advertising makes me wonder how many on the other hand talk themselves into having a condition they don’t. That news is depressing by itself!

  • Lacey


    August 12th, 2009 at 9:03 AM

    A pill is no substitute for speaking to a therapist. There’s no interaction and the reliance is upon chemicals not emotional healing. Meds can complement and enhance therapy. I’m not convinced they alone promote full healing.

  • Marty


    August 14th, 2009 at 4:43 PM

    The docs are too quick to diagnose depression and offload drugs as the quick fix. Waiting rooms get more like frigging assembly lines every day. They don’t care. It’s money in their pocket and a patient out the door. Next!

  • Bryan


    August 19th, 2009 at 2:18 AM

    I think depression needs company. Not a pill. A change of scene, a new hobby, an old friend, a pet anything but a pill.

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