According to Medco Health Solutions Inc., more than 25 percent of women took at least one drug to treat psychiatric conditions in 2010, most prominently for depression and anxiety. The use of drugs to treat psychiatric and behavioral disorders has risen by 22 percent since 2001, and today roughly 20 percent of all Americans hold such prescriptions. In the 20-44 age bracket, the use of ADHD antipsychotic drugs and treatments has more than tripled, and the use of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and Valium has risen by 30 percent. The most common users of antipsychotic drugs today are women aged 45 or older.
The statistics go on and on, though they share a common trend: a dramatic increase in consumption in all age and sex brackets. Are we becoming crazier, are diagonses becoming more succinct, or are drugs simply becoming more accessible?
The past 10 years haven’t exactly been a picnic. There was 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, a number of international natural disasters, a gripping presidential election, our economic collapse, and our (withstanding) towering unemployment rate. Add in your own personal mix-bag of problems, and life doesn’t look too promising — but is it enough to psychologically rock 1/5 of all Americans?
Today, drug commercials are akin to juice commercials in frequency, and I would be bold enough to say that the adorably sad Zoloft ball is culturally recognizable. Mental disorders have also lost their cultural stigma. Celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Brooke Shields have publicly announced their struggles with mental disorders, Zeta-Jones for bipolar disorder and Shields for post-partum depression. Carrie Fisher, of “Star Wars” fame, revealed her use of electroshock therapy to treat her chronic depression. The Frisky’s own Amelia and Jessica have both written about their struggles with depression and their use of anti-depressants. Dare we say that mental disorders have gone mainstream?
What are your thoughts? Is the rise expected, beneficial even?