Written by Dr. Dave Hnida CBS4 Medical EditorIf you’re popping a Prozac or Paxil everyday, you’re part of a big, and ever-growing group.

A new survey of more than 12,000 Americans over age 12 by the CDC shows about one in 10 of us takes an antidepressant.

That’s an increase of 400 percent over the last 20 years.

So does that mean we, as a nation, are more bummed out than we used to be?

Hard to say; the experts aren’t sure but suggest these drugs aren’t only being used to boost mood. Antidepressants can also be helpful to treat things such as anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and the hot flashes of menopause. But does that mean popping a pill the answer to any of these problems?

Not necessarily, especially when it comes to depression. In fact some experts are concerned that only one in three of people who take medication get therapy as well– something that can be really helpful when depression strikes.

On the other hand, some experts say that it’s good the stigma is decreasing when it comes to taking an antidepressant, and the medication can truly be helpful by itself.

In any case, here are some things to know about this class of medicine if and when if ever are prescribed something:

1. The doses are typically too low. Experts say starting on a low dose is okay, but for the best effect, it’s usually necessary to take a lot more than what you started with.

2. Most people aren’t aware of all potential side effects, including increased anxiety, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction. If you start an antidepressant and something happens, or doesn’t work anymore, be sure to tell your doctor (funny to include this paragraph after saying most people don’t take a high enough dosage).

3. Sometimes these meds stop working after a while, meaning 6 months to years later. If that happens, the usual solution is simply to change to a different pill.

4. Once again, if depressed, you don’t seek therapy. It can really help. And, don’t forget things like regular exercise and low fats in the diet can boost mood as well.

5. A pill is not the answer to everything. If you have clinical depression, an antidepressant can be a lifesaver. But it wont solve all of life’s problems, no matter what the diagnosis.

Comments (4)
  1. Donna says:

    Should be noted that those who take mid to high doses of anti-depressants for two or more years have an 82% greater likelihood of developing diabetes. Maybe this explains the increase in cases of diabetes in America.

    1. Wondering says:

      Your source, Donna?

  2. Paul Chenault says:

    Death by medicine is a 21st-century epidemic, and America’s “war on drugs” is clearly directed at the wrong enemy!

    Prescription drugs are now killing far more people than illegal drugs, and while most major causes of preventable deaths are declining, those from prescription drug use are increasing, an analysis of recently released data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by the Los Angeles Times revealed.

    The Times analysis of 2009 death statistics, the most recent available, showed:

    •For the first time ever in the US, more people were killed by drugs than motor vehicle accidents
    •37,485 people died from drugs, a rate fueled by overdoses on prescription pain and anxiety medications, versus 36,284 from traffic accidents
    •Drug fatalities more than doubled among teens and young adults between 2000 and 2008, and more than tripled among people aged 50 to 69
    Again, these drug-induced fatalities are not being driven by illegal street drugs; the analysis found that the most commonly abused prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

  3. Paul Chenault says:

    Ever notice how Dr Dave posts information that favors drug use and then when we comment we never hear from him?
    Is Dave too busy to reply or are our opinions not worthy of the greats doctors time to respond to or does the truth hurt?
    All the vaccinations, recommendations for drugs, some know better, pretty ovious from his lack of responce that he is afraid that we may be right…

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