Higher Unemployment Leads to More Psychiatric Medication

Kermit Cole
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Researchers at the University of Georgia found that during times of higher unemployment, the use of antidepressant and antianxiety drugs rises. Using 21 years of data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey of Physicians, the researchers found “effects too large to be explained by just those losing their jobs, which suggests recessions have a significant impact much broader than those directly affected by the job loss.” Said one author: “people were not necessarily depressed because they didn’t have a job, but maybe because they were afraid of getting laid off.” The researchers also noted that in areas with higher medical coverage, more people receiving medical assistance may result in more prescriptions for depression.

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Bradford, D., Lastrapes, W.; A Prescription for Unemployment? Recessions and the Demand for Mental Health Drugs. Health Economics. Online August 19, 2013. DOI: 10.1002/hec.2983

Of further interest:
Mental Illness Prescriptions Increase During Recession Period: Study (Sunday Times)

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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]

5 COMMENTS

  1. Imagine, anxiety being caused by actual life events! What a concept!

    But not EVERYONE gets anxious about losing their job or being unemployed. So those who get anxious about it must have a CHEMICAL IMBALANCE that makes them unnecessarily worried about the possibility that they may become homeless or starve to death. NORMAL people don’t worry about these things. They just roll with the business cycle and starve quietly off the road somewhere where they won’t bother anyone.

    —- Steve

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