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In the kitchen, at a party

Antidepressants - in the kitchen at a party

Antidepressants - in the kitchen at a party

There are no great theoretical insights here, it’s really just an observation on modern times.

I was in the kitchen at a party (because I’m always in the kitchen at parties). Of six of us talking in a group: four currently on antidepressants, one recently stopped taking them and me, who’s managed to avoid them. That’s not to say I haven’t had my depressive moments in the past, just that by luck more than judgement I’ve seen counsellors and therapists instead.

And it’s not the first time: it’s the third or fourth time in the last year or so, at different parties with different people.

Some quick internet searching this morning told me that the numbers of people on antidepressants has been increasing rapidly in the last decade, and recent research suggests that in 2006 around 4% of males and 9% of females in the UK were likely to be on antidepressants – the proportions in different population subgroups varies, and increases with age. They were, moreover, on them often for periods of 4-5 years.

My party experience isn’t exactly statistically accurate, but on the other hand I don’t think the parties I go to are especially for depressives either. The current figures for antidepressant use are undoubtedly higher than the 2006 figures suggest, since the numbers of prescriptions issued has been rising quickly. And there’s no simple association between the prevalence of mental health problems such as depression and the prescription of antidepressants, which has far outstripped the rise in diagnoses of ‘common mental health problems’ and in any event it seems only around one-third of those with such problems are prescribed antidepressants (though they may of course be given other treatments or medications).

I don’t think it’s possible to conclude life is harsher now than it has been in the past. Think back to the 1960s and the extent to which doctors prescribed ‘mother’s little helpers’, as they were then known. Think back to the period of the World Wars, and the depression between them; life was astonishingly tough, not to say brutal and horrific, for huge numbers of people. But for many people now, life is tougher than it has ever been during their own adult lifetimes.

And it does strike me, forcefully, that if we have a society in which such a large proportion of the population need some kind of medication to come to terms with and live through their social reality, it’s the social reality that really needs fixing, not the people.

That’s my thought for the day. Precisely what needs fixing, and how it can get fixed, is a whole other post. It does usually take me a couple of days to work out solutions to life, the universe and everything, but I’ll put it on my to-do list…

Useful quick references about antidepressant use, incidentally, are:

Coleman, I., Wadsworth, M., Croudace, T. and Jones, P. (2006) ‘Three decades of antidepressant, anxiolytic and hypnotic use in a national population birth cohort‘, British Journal of Psychiatry 189: 156-160.

Gutierrez, D. (2009) ‘Number of Prescriptions Written in UK for Antidepressants Nearly Equals Entire Population‘, Natural News, Friday, December 04.

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  1. November 14, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    A couple of years ago I was working in a doctor’s office and I was very surprised to learn that most of the nurses and medical staff were either taking Zoloft or Wellbutrin. One would think that this would make the office a very happy place, but that was far from the truth. Whahah!

  2. December 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I guess the use of anti-deps is more common where people are working in stressed environments, which many clinics are? Doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence though, does it…

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