Is there greed behind antidepressants?

I read an article called The Medicated Americans, some Barber fellow and it bugged me.

Barber (2008) is a descriptive study that asserts that the medical community tends to prescribe various antidepressants for common life problems and not for clinical depression.  This assertion is demonstrated through a general profile of the medicated American: A woman in her late twenties, early thirties named Julie, who begins each day by taking an antidepressant in the hopes that her life will soon become better through the pill’s magic.  Further, she does not take the pill as part of a larger therapeutic program designed to treat clinical depression; her family doctor prescribed the antidepressant as a tool to help her feel better.

In addition, Barber (2008) uses Julie as a contrast measure against actual clinical depression, as described by the DSM IV.  Effectively, Julie would not have the energy to get up every morning to go to work if she suffered from a diagnosable bout of depression for which the antidepressant was designed.  The pharmaceutical industry with their fancy ads, which reach a wide audience, lead people to meds with a promise of feeling better.  Insurance companies are happy to pay for those meds; all the more so when therapy is not part of the package (Barber, 2008).

With the expansion of the DSM from version I to its current revision, the means with which to label patients has broadened.  This broadening has cast a net so wide that any mood or emotion that lasts for more than a day can now be diagnosed.  Coupled with the ads and ease of prescription, more and more people have turned to antidepressants as a coping mechanism (Barber, 2008).

While I agree that we should, “take the daring of calling life problems what they are and what they were up until about 20 years ago: life problems” (Barber, 2008, p. 51), I think there is a bias within the article against diagnosis of clinical disorders.  Effectively, the bias is that psychiatry has forsaken the mentally ill for those with money who are eager and willing to pay for meds (Barber, 2008).  I disagree, maybe naively. I like to think that those who design programs to treat mental/emotional disorders do so from a perspective of healing and not greed.

Barber (2008), The Medicated Americans, Scientific American Mind, 44-51



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