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 Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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