Depression: Is it a pandemic in the U.S.?
Are we becoming a nation of sad people?
The CDC reports that 11% of Americans over the age of 12 use antidepressant medications, usually for at least two years and with 14% taking antidepressants for more than a decade. Women seem to be at most risk with 23% of middle-aged women taking antidepressants. Overall, women are 2.5 times more likely than men to take antidepressants. It isn’t that men aren’t suffering from depression, just that they are less likely to be prescribed antidepressants.
Even more startling is that less than a third of the people taking a single antidepressant regime reported seeing a mental health professional in the previous year. And those taking multiple medications were even less likely to see a psychiatrist and less than 50% of the polypharmacy group had seen a mental health professional in the previous year.
A 2009 report from the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention indicated that 2.2 million Americans made a suicide plan in the prior year and approximately 1 million progressed to an actual suicide attempt. Men were found to be a higher risk for suicide than women in this study. Where we live, age and gender were found to be factors in suicide ideation and planning.
What does this information tell us? Are we seeking relief for depression from antidepressant medications rather than through counseling? Are pills becoming “the easy way out” to cope with our sadness, depression and loneliness. Is suicide becoming a more viable option when life pressures get too great? There is a better way of living and coping with our life problems if we look at the solutions which are made available to us. Why not consider counseling as an effective approach? Some people may need both an antidepressant and counseling to achieve lasting results. The reality is that there are ways to address depression and to create a better way of living.