Is America Driving You Crazy?
The number of Americans suffering from mental illness has nearly doubled since 1987. That’s when Prozac, the first of the “wonder drugs” was introduced. Mental disorders are reported in more than 25% of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. And more than 1 in 4 college students are now on anti-depressants. With all the new drugs available for treatment, depression and anxiety disorders continue to rise. Is our drug-based system of care fueling this epidemic? With an unstable future and fewer family and community ties to help deal with problems, anxiety is also heightened by other factors related to modern society, such as war, global warming, advanced technology and globalization. What can we do to create a healthier society and treat those afflicted with mental illness in a more effective way?
Stephen Bezruchka is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle.