Do Mental Health Disorders Affect 1 in 4 Women?

November 30, 2011

That’s the reported rate that women are using drugs to treat mental health disorders, including depression, ADHD, and anxiety.

It’s not just women, though they use more mental health drugs than any other group. Men and children’s use of drugs to treat mental health disorders had also gone up over the last decade.

Some speculate that the causes for these mental illnesses could have started at 9/11, or could have come more recently from the current economical turmoil. Alternatively, women may be more actively seeking help than they were over a decade ago.

While many probably are being helped for mental health disorders, 1 in 4, 25%, is incredibly high. How are we defining normal? If you’ve owned a TV any time over the last decade, you’ve seen the ads: anyone who feels sad, depressed, anxious, or any other number of common feelings likely suffers from a mental illness of one sort or the other.

The people in the ads can’t be helped by psychiatrists, changing their diet (nutrition), increasing their exercise (which boosts happy hormones), making other positive lifestyle changes (seeing a financial expert, working through social relationships, getting help from friends). They need a pill, which will magically make everything better.

But for everyone who finds help from medication for mental disorders, there are those with medicine cabinets full of different prescriptions, fixing problems complicated by the first. It comes from a mentality of the pharmaceutical industry that it’s better to sell one drug to everybody (and who hasn’t felt sad?) rather than make treatments for other serious diseases that can’t easily have their diagnoses broadened to fit the entire population.

Here’s a neat tool: if you’re worried that your doctor gets kick-backs (financial incentive from the pharmaceutical industry for the prescription he makes) check out ProPublica’s Dollars for Doctors and see.

Are drugs for mental health disorders over prescribed? Share your opinion:

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