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Author talks about overuse of antidepressants

In an interview with Metro New York, author Katherine Sharpe discusses some of the reasons behind what she sees as a widespread trend among American medical professionals to overprescribe antidepressants.

Sharpe is the author of Coming of Age on Zoloft, which deals with the experiences of young people trying to figure out who they are after spending their formative years on antidepressants.

When antidepressants first came onto the market, medical professionals tended to treat them like miracle drugs, according to Sharpe. Since 1989, when less than 2 percent of Americans used Prozac and Zoloft each year, the World Health Organization has gone on to list depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide.

But some troubling side effects of antidepressant use have come to light in recent years.

A number of studies indicate that antidepressants classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors — including Zoloft and Prozac – are linked with potentially deadly heart and lung defects in babies born to mothers who take them during their pregnancy.

Sharpe sees some economic reasons behind the overprescription of the drugs, including direct-to-consumer advertising, doctors accepting drug company money in exchange for prescribing drugs, and the influence of insurance companies.

“There are clear economic forces at work,” Sharpe says. “Insurance companies tend not to be as willing to pay for psychotherapy as they were 30 years ago; when it comes to mental health, what they’re willing to pay for is medication. So regardless of what a doctor might really believe is best, the medication is what they end up handing out.”

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries.

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