Since the introduction of Prozac in 1987 there has been a massive amount of controversy surrounding the theories of chemical imbalances in the brain, and how to treat them. We call it controversy because of the fact that fewer people experience these imbalances than are made out to be by the media and of course by pharmaceutical companies. This is not a situation where these imbalances were discovered, and then drugs were created to fix the problem. No, its more a matter of drugs that were already in existence being found to have effects on the brain being pushed for other purposes. As Dr. Marcia Angell writes, their excuse is that fevers are caused by too little aspirin.
Dr. Angell has written a 2 part article in the New York Review of Books in which she analyzes 3 books regarding theories that mental illnesses come from brain chemical imbalances and the rise or epidemic of mental illness in the US. The best news about these articles is that theyve garnered a lot of attention from other journalists who are joining her crusade, and Forbes magazine even said psychopharma is looking like an idea whose time has passed.
Overmedication is not new news by any means, however. At least 10% of Americans over age 6 are on some form of antidepressant. What do 6 year olds have to be depressed about? Half a million children in the US are on antipsychotic drugs, which were once reserved for - you guessed it, psychotics! Its hard to really believe its anything more than a money game, as in 2010 alone pharmaceutical companies spent over $6 billion marketing to doctors in the US, and another $4 billion marketing directly to patients and consumers.
Most patients who take 1 type of antidepressant or similar drug will also take another to counter side effects. Over 2 million Americans are hospitalized each year from adverse drug reactions and more than 100,000 die from them. Most who start on these drugs will never come off them, and will spend a lifetime on disability. In fact, since 1987 (when Prozac started it all) there has been a 250% increase in disability pay for mental illness for adults. Whats scarier is that for children it was a much larger increase, actually 35 times higher.
The Illusions of Psychiatry
The Truth About the Drug Companies