Saturday, August 29, 2009

Medicated Moms

Today I read this article about a mother who decided antidepressants were the answer to her parenting stress. Her anecdote about the kids bickering in the backseat of the car is a story all too familiar- Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

But... Since when is getting angry and yelling at your kids a condition requiring medication?

I absolutely believe that there are legitimate uses for antidepressant and antianxiety medications. There are people who wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning without them. But by all indications, use of these medicines has greatly increased. Some would say they are overprescribed- even the author acknowledges it:

"My doctor said he prescribes mood-enhancing medications about 10 times a week... My friend called her doctor to make an appointment and talk about going on Paxil. The nurse said she would just call the script into the pharmacy. No appointment necessary."

No appointment necessary? Are you kidding me? I had to make 3 calls to my doctor, begging her to call in a prescription for antibiotic eyedrops for pinkeye without seeing me first. Why are there doctors handing out powerful psychotropic medications like they are candy?

Here is my biggest problem with the author:

"Maybe moms like me should do more yoga, cut back our responsibilities, see a therapist, exercise more, put duct tape over our mouths every day after 5 p.m. Maybe we should do anything to avoid relying on drugs to become calmer, happier people."

She outright acknowledges that there may have been other (non-pharmacological) ways to handle her stress and anxiety, but did she bother to try them? No, she didn't. It's easier just to pop a pill. Antidepressants have well-documented side effects. As far as I know, yoga and therapy do not.

I reiterate the fact that there are many people for whom antidepressants are nothing short of a godsend. Yet I have to wonder if we, as a society, have come to view any negative emotion as a sign of a mood disorder. Or maybe it's that we think we can use a pill to cure just about anything. Or maybe [conspiratorial whisper] the pharmaceutical companies' marketing tactics have convinced us we are broken and need to be fixed.

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