It’s hard to believe, but the numbers are in — and they’re telling a very bleak story.
A shocking, just-out CDC study has found that in the 15 years between 1999 and 2014, the numbers of Americans taking antidepressants has zoomed up a whopping 65 percent. That boils down to 1 in 8 people over the age of 12 in the U.S.
That’s right, kids are being drugged with antidepressants by the truckload, too.
Apparently, experts were shocked as well — but one doctor may have hit the nail on the head about the how and why Americans are popping these risky drugs like there’s no tomorrow.
And for many, that’s literally the case.
Stop, look and listen
Trouble sleeping? Try some trazodone, a risky antidepressant.
Having headaches, or other pains? Your doctor might zip you out an off-label Rx for Cymbalta, the med made popular by the slogan, “Depression can hurt, Cymbalta can help.”
That’s what Dr. Ami Baxi, director of psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital, believes is driving the increased use of such drugs.
They’re being handed out like candy for reasons other than depression.
And get this! Dr. Baxi says we can expect to see these drugs prescribed even more as the FDA approves new uses for them.
Now that’s a really depressing thought!
But Dr. Baxi appears to be right on track here.
Earlier this year, a study out of Canada found that around a third of antidepressants aren’t prescribed for depression, but rather for any and all other conditions under the sun. And that’s true even when there’s no shred of evidence these kinds of meds can help relieve problems other than what they were designed for.
To make matters worse, taking them for just a short period of time can mean you’re either on them for the long haul or you’re going to face a very difficult time trying to stop.
Take trazodone, for instance.
Approved by the FDA for depression over three decades ago, it has become the off-label solution of many doctors for insomnia, since drowsiness is one of its side effects. In fact, the label warns that the best time to take it is right before going to bed!
But while it’s easy enough to take the first pill, trying to take the last one can be next to impossible. Users have reported reactions of extreme anger and hostility while trying to quit. It’s no wonder that the CDC study found that a quarter of all the people it queried had been on these meds for a decade… or more.
And trazodone, like most antidepressants, also comes with a black-box warning for “suicidal thinking and behavior,” along with warnings about “cognitive and motor impairment,” a deadly heart rhythm disorder called QT prolongation, “activation of mania,” and on and on and on.
That’s quite a risk to take to get some shuteye, cure a headache, or even to treat anxiety or depression.
When 37-year-old Woody Witczak went to his doctor because he was having trouble sleeping, what he got was an Rx for the antidepressant Zoloft. Five weeks later, he hanged himself from the rafters in his garage.
There’s no doubt that Big Pharma loves off-label prescribing — after all, it’s worth billions.
But it puts you, your kids, and your grandkids at a very big risk every time a prescription is filled.
That’s why it’s extremely important that before you take any Rx from your doctor, you stop to ask what the med was actually approved for. And if it wasn’t for your problem, find out why he thinks it will help.
And if he gives you an antidepressant, simply say “no thanks.”
“Antidepresssant use in U.S. soars by 65 percent in 15 years” E.J. Mundell, August 16, 2017, CBS News, cbsnews.com