Today I’ve had a few cancellations, so while catching up on some of the more menial tasks I am responsible for, I perused the internet. On MSN’s homepage was an article called “There is a Pill for That“. I read it, and there is some interesting data about pharmaceutical advertising.
Recently a friend sent me a video on a similar subject, which is a documentary about the pharmaceutical companies making a lot of money at the expense of those with mental illness. I haven’t watched it yet, and find the subject to be a difficult one. Working in the field of psychology I see many people helped with psychotropic medications. At the same time, I am aware of what I believe to be over prescribing by some doctors (especially family practitioners who do not have psychiatric expertise). For example in a text I am teaching this semester, one statistic claimed over 50% of those with Bipolar D/O may be misdiagnosed.
Beyond this statistic, there is the affect of pharmaceutical advertising. A great quote from the MSN article says in regard to the effect of advertising “almost 80 percent of doctors believe that drug commercials encourage patients to ask for medicines they don’t need.”
It has long been my stance that America is a culture where drugs dominate. There has been movement lately toward a more holistic approach, but this seems to be a small movement, as evidenced by the skyrocketing profits of the pharmaceutical companies. We want a pill to solve the issue, rather than doing the work (eating better, exercise, stretching). When I was in graduate school we had a formal debate about whether adolescents should be using antidepressants. There is an additional risk of suicide in some adolescents with SSRIs. We did not get to choose the side we were on, and I was on the side supporting the use of antidepressants. The other side put together a wonderful argument discussing how more natural interventions (certain foods, exercise, other natural occurring remedies) effectively reduce the symptoms of depression. Despite their well thought out argument, the other side won, generally relying on the fact this is America, and people are generally unwilling to put that much effort into alleviating difficulties when simply taking a pill will do it for them.
I recommend looking at this article.