Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One in ten

My reaction to recent growth in antidepressant use differs from Philip Dawdy's. He declares: "Yes, America is one doped-up nation"; I think that's awfully glib. I actually found comfort in the news that slightly more than 10% of Americans are using some form of antidepressant, because while Lexapro has hardly been a panacea since I began taking it last October, it's certainly helped me battle a sense of hopelessness that was keeping me in bed, in the house, and unemployed for a bit too long. It's reassuring to me that an increasing number of people see medication as an option, even if it's a flawed one.

Dawdy points to a particular doctor as a voice of reason in the debate over antidepressants. Here's the excerpt from Reuters:
Dr. Eric Caine of the University of Rochester in New York said he was concerned by the findings. "Antidepressants are only moderately effective on population level," he said in a telephone interview.

Caine, who was not involved in the research, noted that several studies show therapy is as effective as, if not more effective than, drug use alone.

"There are no data to say that the population is healthier. Indeed, the suicide rate in the middle years of life has been climbing," he said.
Moderate effectiveness isn't the same as scant effectiveness or ineffectiveness, and it's well known that drug use alone isn't nearly as helpful as medication combined with therapy (which is what I'm doing). Finally, a lack of data doesn't prove or disprove the population's increased health, and who can say why more middle-aged people are committing suicide? Dawdy notes that it's nice to see his opinions echoed by a professional, but I find Dr. Caine's points pretty unconvincing.

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