A self-reflection. Perhaps this is you, currently slumped on your sofa, trying to steady your quirky hands as you draw a dose of liquid from a vial using a petit dropper. A delicate operation to say the least, but one that has become part of your daily routine. What are we talking about? That antidepressant that’s in your medicine cabinet.
The rise and misuse of antidepressants.
The numbers don’t lie. The use of antidepressants has risen exponentially in the United States. In fact, according to a report released by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in eight Americans over the age of 12 has documented antidepressant usage.
In total, about 25 million adults have been active users of antidepressants for at least 2 years. Which translates to a 60% rise since 2010!
Now, it would be an understatement to say that antidepressants are useful. They have revolutionized the field of psychology in more ways than we can imagine; and are regarded as a major milestone when it comes to psychological treatment. In fact, quite a number of patients have recorded success with the medication.
Addiction and Withdrawal
However, for others, the long-term use of antidepressants has resulted in an unanticipated problem; addiction, and the effect of withdrawal symptoms with every attempt to quit. Something that these habitual users say they were never warned about in the first place.
In retrospect, there were some scientists who did predict such an occurrence; that a few patients might experience the proverbial withdrawal symptoms associated with hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Yet for most drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, withdrawal has never been a key focus. With the belief that antidepressants could not be addictive at all, it set precedence to the current crisis.
Antidepressants were initially meant for short-term use, with studies predicting that they were meant to be used for a maximum of two months. Even today, there is not enough data to determine the side-effects of consuming them for years. Despite this, there are millions of new users today, and the number continues to steadily increase.
However, the ever-growing usage of antidepressants is not just an issue encountered in the United States. In fact, in the developed world, the access and demand for long-term prescriptions has increased rapidly. For example, in Britain, the number of prescriptions per person has double in the last decade alone. In response, health officials in the country began a thorough nationwide review of antidepressants and prescription drug effects.
Surprisingly, the medical fraternity has no credible answer to the reasons why people are struggling to get off the drugs. Hence, there are no appropriate strategies to be implemented.
What is being done to help the addicts?
It’s sad to say, but there has been very little intervention to help antidepressant addicts. That’s because the government, as well as a majority of organizations, do not recognize this condition as an addiction in the first place. However, there are a few notable individuals who are taking an active responsibility to help those in need.
One example is Anthony Kendrick, a professor at the University of Southampton in Britain. With government funding assistance, he is creating online support and telephone assistance to both patients and practitioners. The main objective is to give essential advice on how to effectively use antidepressants and how to cope with the withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully, a similar American initiative will be put in place soon.