Are You Depressed? Do You Know Someone Who Is Depressed?

Award-winning science writer Robert Whitaker’s 2011 book Anatomy of an Epidemic is an astonishing, shocking book that challenges the foundations of modern-day psychiatry and mental health care. Whitaker addresses a medical mystery: with all the new psychiatric drugs that have become available recently, why has the number of disabled mentally ill people in America tripled in the last 20 years? Every day 1,100 adults and children are added to government disability roles due to mental illness.

Whitaker asks questions like, “are drugs causing rather than curing the problem…are we manufacturing mental illness?” and, “are antidepressants and other new psychiatric drugs contributing to an alarming new epidemic of drug-induced mental illness?”

There is ample evidence to support the claim that the drugs prescribed by physicians to stabilize mental disorders are in fact inducing pathological changes in brain chemistry and in the structure of the brain which can trigger manic and psychotic episodes, violence, suicide, a range of metabolic diseases and premature death.

Whitaker points out that in 1987, the US mental illness disability rate was 1 of every 184 Americans. By 2007, the menial illness disability rate had more than doubled to 1 of every 76 Americans. During this same time the use of psychiatric drugs has skyrocketed.

Prior to the introduction of Prozac in 1988, the total US expenditure for antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs was less than $1 billion. Today the market for those two classes of drugs alone generates over $25 billion a year in the US.

Whitaker asks, “Are psychiatric drugs creating mental illness?” Whitaker is one of numerous people expressing grave concerns about the wide-spread use of drugs to treat mental & emotional disorders. In my soon-to-be released WEBinar on Natural Therapies for Depression & Anxiety I will present a number of other thought-leaders who are addressing controversies in psychiatry. Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) chose Whitaker’s book as the best investigative journalism book of 2010, saying it provides in-depth exploration of medical studies and science. Whitaker does not say that the use of psychiatric medications is all bad. Instead, he emphasizes that they should be used with caution.

As a pharmacist who is vitally interested in health, I agree with Whitaker. I believe these medications should be primarily used for severe psychiatric disorders. Put another way, I do not think that people with mild to moderate depression or anxiety should be treated with these drugs. Natural therapies for anxiety and depression should be tried first.

By Ross Pelton