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Psych Drugs Gaining Foothold on Widespread Acceptance

But Americans surveyed also expect meds to relieve stress and personal troubles... but experts put up a caution flag!

Just what I've feared: people are putting our hopes of a brighter future in the form of a pill.

The pharmaceutical industry knows this: why else would people buy unregulated weight loss supplements that haven't been rigorously studied?

A new study now purports that a growing number of Americans are giving acceptance to the use of psychiatric drugs for what seems to be nothing more than the ups and downs of life.

In the study, about five out of six people surveyed felt psychiatric medications could help people control 'psychiatric' symptoms, but many also expected the medications could help people deal with day-to-day stresses, help them feel better about themselves and make things easier with family and friends.

Are you kidding me? A pill will make things better with family and friends?

Friends (I'll refer to that if you've read Table Talk each week), I care enough about you to get down-right nasty and honest about this: Don't be a fool and fall for this.

According to the study's author, it appears as though people's attitudes regarding psychiatric medications became more favorable between 1998 and 2006.

This, of course, is when the era of "demand-medicine" began; when pharmaceutical companies began flooding TV and magazines with advertisements about pills. Riding the crest of this wave were Viagara and Prozac. "Demand medicine" is quite simple: people saw an ad about a pill to fix their 'whatever' and went to their doctor and demanded a trial of it.

Big pharma companies ALWAYS add in the tag line, "ask your doctor about ___________." Why?

Because they know you better than YOU know you!

The major concern is that people's attitudes have become increasingly positive, even in situations where there might not be a proven benefit to the drugs.

The drugs are design to treat serious pathology where professional counseling is inadequate to control symptoms that would make the patient a danger to him or herself. The problem is that people believe they may need them because they're having trouble getting along with their co-workers or kids.

Are you shaking your head in disgust or frustration?

Look, I know many of you reading this are on some type of psych drug. I know this because I've quietly kept an eye on how many of my patients take these drugs over the last five years.

Many of you are FINE PEOPLE JUST AS YOU ARE. I don't need to be a doctor to tell that.

But remember back in the Reagan era when Nancy Reagan began the "Just Say No" campaign and we were taught in grade school "Don't Do Drugs"?

Of course. We've been using that mantra for over a quarter of a century. But now more and more of our adults (and a growing number of kids and adolescents) are using these mind-altering substances.

Would it surprise you to know that at any given time, up to 30-40% of my patients are using psych drugs?

Researchers wanted to assess American's opinions of psychiatric medications for a number of reasons. One is that the use of such medications has soared in recent years. Between 1990 and 2000, the use of antidepressants increased fivefold. Another reason is that the government has allowed direct-to-consumer advertising for the drugs. And finally, researchers wanted to learn if the recent FDA black box warnings on some antidepressants and antipsychotics had any effect on people's opinions of these drugs.

Using data from the U.S. General Social Surveys from 1998 and 2006, researchers compared the two periods to examine people's attitudes toward psychiatric medications.

The initial sample for 1998 included 1,387 people, while the 2006 survey included 1,437 people. Both groups included slightly more females than males. More than 70 percent of both groups were white, and more than half had more than a high school education.

In 1998, 84 percent of people agreed with the statement, "These medications help people control their symptoms." In 2006, that number had edged up slightly, to 86 percent.

By 2006, more people believed that psychiatric medications could help people feel better about themselves (68 percent vs. 60 percent), help people deal with stress (83 percent compared to 78 percent), and make things easier with family and friends (76 percent compared to 68 percent).

People were somewhat more willing to take these medications themselves: 29 percent in 2006 vs. 23 percent in 1998. Opinions about the drugs' potential adverse effects didn't change over time, according to the study.

Researchers believe commercial & print advertising as well as word-of-mouth promotion may have helped increased people's positive perceptions of these drugs.

These drugs have become a part of our culture. Fifty years ago, psychiatric drugs were something you'd take only if psychotherapy failed. Today, psychotherapy often isn't affordable or effective, thus treating symptoms has shifted toward medications. (emphasis noted...symptoms, not cause)

When these drugs work -- for anxiety, insomnia, depression, mania -- they can be miraculous for that person. But, none of them work universally.

Caution, prudence, and a sober attitude about them are needed.

Most of us at some level of our consciousness, realize that there IS a mind-body-spirit connection. But where to begin? Here is one method.

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