Inventing anti-depressants, good or bad? Statistics Infographic

Inventing anti-depressants good or bad

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Insomnia. Low self-esteem. Loss of interest in daily activities. Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism. Irritability, anxiousness, and fatigue. When felt for several weeks or longer, these could all signify major depression-- something that 6.6% of U.S. adults have faced in the past 12 months.

For most, symptoms of depression come on without any sort of trigger, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. Over 60% of sufferers in the U.S. are women. African-Americans, Hispanics, and those of multiple races are at an increased risk, as are women who have gone through a divorce. Women between the ages of 45 and 64 are at the highest risk of depression.

A disease that far-reaching and serious requires a big solution. Since the inventing of anti-depressants, that solution has come in the form of a pill-- whether it's selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic anti-depressants (TCAs), or atypical anti-depressants. In 2009 alone, $9.9 billion worth of anti-depressants were prescribed to patients.

And while they can be helpful, results vary from person to person, even when used in conjunction with professional therapy. Paxil, for instance, was given a 55% success rate, versus 62% with Effexor, or even 84% with Remeron. Regardless of the success rate, fewer than 50% of patients become completely asymptomatic while on anti-depressants, even after switching to a different brand or type. Many who fail to respond to treatment can lapse back into severe depression, in spite of continuing to take their medication.

Additionally, 90% of anti-depressant users report side-effects, ranging in scale from minor to severe. Some of the more minor side-effects include nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, difficulty sleeping, feelings of restlessness, and changes in weight. On the severe side, some report suicidal thoughts of behavior, acting on dangerous impulses, and new or worsening depression. The side-effects can get to the point where the medication must be discontinued. While the inventing of anti-depressants has been beneficial to some, to others, the increase in suicidal thoughts and the intensifying of other depressive symptoms make them too dangerous to be worthwhile.