May 15th, 2020
Guest writer for Wake Up World
Around 13% of Americans take antidepressants, and their use is growing around the world. In the UK, the prescription of antidepressants has doubled over the past 10 years. The long-term use of the drugs is also increasing, year on year. In 2000, around 5 million Americans had been taking antidepressants for five years or more. By 2018, this had increased to 15.5 million. At the same point, almost 25 million adults had been taking antidepressants for more than two years, a 60 percent increase from 2010.
You might assume that such a widely used treatment has been proven beyond doubt to be effective, just as widely used painkillers like paracetamol or aspirin have been shown beyond doubt to be beneficial. You might also assume that such a widely used treatment has minimal side effects and risks, or at least that these are significantly outweighed by its positive effects.
Unfortunately, neither of these assumptions is true. The evidence for the benefits of antidepressants is ambiguous, whereas there is increasing evidence that their risks (especially their addictive potential) have been underestimated.
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