Capitalism – the Sick Society

March 17, 2011

Mental illness in America has become an established epidemic. So-called miracle drugs like Prozac are taken by 11% of the population – and Prozac is only one of the 30 available antidepressants on the market. Antidepressants are accompanied by anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic drugs. Xanax, America’s leading anti-anxiety medication, is so ubiquitous that Xanax generates more revenue than Tide detergent. Anti-psychotics drugs alone net the pharmaceutical industry at least $14.6bn dollars a year. Psycho-pharmaceuticals are the most profitable sector of the industry, which makes it one of the most profitable business sectors in the world. Americans are less than 5% of the world’s population, yet they consume 66% of the world’s psychological medications.

Do these psycho pharmaceuticals work to restore mental health? Actually, the evidence is overwhelming that they fail. Antidepressants, the most popular psycho-pharmaceuticals, work no better than placebos. They work 25% of the time and stop working when the user stops taking them. In addition, they may actually harm patients in the long run. They disrupt brain neurotransmitters and may usurp the brain’s organic soothing functions. Psycho-pharmaceuticals are less effective in the long run than talk therapy. Talk therapy, like drugs, does change brain and body chemistry; unlike drugs, though, talk therapy has no side-effects. Instead, talk therapy gives a patient tools that usually help to solve future problems.

There’s a reason psychiatrists prescribe drugs rather than talking therapy: the latter makes no money for pharmaceutical firms. Caring about profit is first, and that is why psychiatry has turned to drug therapy.

From The Guardian

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