“A Glut of Antidepressants”


The New York Times reflects on various explanations for the skyrocketing use of antidepressants (the economy, pharmaceutical advertising, the effect of insurance), then reports an April, 2013 article in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (and others) that indicate that “(depression) is being over diagnosed on a remarkable scale.”

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. The ‘explanation’ is that people are easily willing to believe in total BS, snake oil pronouncements that unhappiness is a ‘brain disease’.

    Anytime I see anyone use the term ‘over diagnosis’ in relation to psychiatry, it tells me they are in the tank for DSM diagnosis having validity, but just think it should be ‘toned down’ to only those who truly deserve to have their life’s problems blamed on their never examined brain. In other words, I know I’m dealing with a lightweight.

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  2. I never ever had a psychiatrist spend 90 minutes with me! Fifteen minutes was the best I coudl ever score.

    All of that aside, I think that in a lot of cases the general public goes to their GP and demand the damned things. Doctors seem very obliging to indulge the person doing the demanding.

    The drug companies have done a great job in convincing the public that they need their little “meds” so that they won’t experience any kind of sadness or have to actually worry about anything. Our society wants to be zonked and zombified. People don’t want to ever have to deal with problems or sadness. We’ve become a pill popping nation of people.

    When I was growing up you would never have heard anyone being vocal about taking something like antidepressants. Heck, you wouldn’t even call a pregnant woman pregnant; you said that she was pg! Now, you can go to parties and hear people talking about how they went to their doctors and got their little antidepressants and they state this proudly as if it’s some kind of merit badge or something.

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    • I agree with the 15 minutes. For the patients bragging about antidepressants, what circles do you travel in? No one I know would request antidepressants from their physicians, and I’ve only had one person happily tell me they were on ADs. They did it because they thought it would be the answer to my problems. Not so much.

      In my case, I am about out of patience with GPs trying to prescribe them to me for my fatigue issues. The fatigue is a result of hypothyroidism and sleep deprivation from apnea and silent reflux, yet still the prescription pad comes out for the dammed things.

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      • Did you know that the majority of the so-called “psychiatric” drugs are prescribed by GPs? The majority of doctors giving out the so-called “antidepressants” are GPs and not psychiatrists. This is a fact. People flock to their GPs all the time demanding “antidepressants” probably du to the commercials they see on TV. Rather than have them go to someone else to get them the doctor generally hands them out.

        I can’t afford a GP by my nurse practitioner is always trying to give me some kind of “antidepressant” due to my history in the system. I took myself off the damned things and will never take them ever again.

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  3. I know that GPs are prescribing the majority of antidepressants. However, I don’t follow your conclusion that patients are asking for them. I think it is rather the opposite. And, both of our cases demonstrate this. I keep having to refuse to take prescriptions for them as well as you do.

    I am sure GPs, NPs, whomever, mean well, yet they don’t have the time or ability to figure out what is wrong with you so they offer what they think will relieve your symptoms, however misguided.

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    • Hi Docket,

      In my case, A GP started me on an SSRI even though I hadn’t asked for one, and, like you, I didn’t even have depression. I wish I had known better. <(understatement of a lifetime)

      Good for you for refusing that garbage.

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