Statistics on the prevalence of mental health concerns in the modern world may seem staggering, especially with the consideration of rising reports of feelings of depression, anxiety, and other related issues.
But equally, if not more, astounding are the rapidly rising rates of psychiatric medication prescriptions, which have spawned a multibillion-dollar industry intent on treating the full spectrum of common mental health complaints with readily available drugs. Many have cited significant negative elements of the industry, such as a tendency to market medications directly to clients, rather than to mental health care professionals. The connections between product endorsement and prescription and personal bonuses and gifts have also been called into question on several occasions. Recently, a book was published that delivers another blow to the industry. Titled The Emperor’s New Drugs, the book explores the question of whether antidepressant medications and their next of kin are effective in the first place.
Though extensive clinical trials have been performed to support the positive actions of the majority of psychiatric medications, many remain skeptical as to their ability to help treat mental health concerns in a meaningful way. For some people, adjusting chemical balances may prove beneficial, but in his book, Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull, challenges whether imbalances can really be blamed for the manifestation of mental health issues. Citing the ability of placebos to have similar effects in many cases, Kirsch suggests that it is psychotherapy, rather than silent medication, that holds the greatest potential to heal.
Of course, whether they acknowledge the potential efficacy of psychiatric medicines or not, many people are likely to support the promotion of therapy as a more meaningful and long-lasting treatment option. Whether the millions of Americans currently taking pills for their mental and emotional woes will join this group is unknown.
© 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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