Do doctors too often prescribe antidepressant and anxiety medications? by Anna Mestel

[ By on December 18, 2016 ]

A controversial topic that is commonly discussed in America is the question about the usage of prescribed antidepressant and anxiety medications. These two specific medicines are among the most frequently used drugs by people in this century. While these drugs can be very useful for people who really need the help, there are also a lot of people who don’t necessarily require the use of medicine, but are simply prescribed it as a so-called “easy fix.” Prescribing medical drugs are easy; however, are they as safe as they seem? The American Psychological Association states “the use of psychotropic drugs by adult Americans increased 22 percent from 2001 to 2010, with one in five adults now taking at least one psychotropic medication…” The professions in society must pay more attention to the over use of these drugs and therefore the government should issue restrictions or guidelines on when the usage of these drugs are appropriate. That said, “most antidepressants are prescribed by primary-care physicians who may have limited training in treating mental health disorders.”

Deontology reflects what is right vs. what is wrong. Kant expresses the theory of universalizing these decisions and its effect. In this case, if primary-care physicians prescribed these medications too often, then everyone would assume it to be okay to ask their doctor for them. If this happened, then would people be violating their morals in order to solve their “anxiety and depression”? Deontology is based around reason and rules. How might Kant feel about the over usage of these drugs? If physicians do not start and try to come up with a solution to this topic, then people will use these medications to their advantage, which could affect their overall health in the future.

Overuse in America with regards to these drugs seems to be building at an alarming rate. I personally feel that while these medications are extremely helpful and a necessity for people who are suffering from these disorders, I want people to be careful in taking these drugs irresponsibly in an effort to prevent significant problems in the future. There is clearly a problem in society today and according to American Psychological Association, “Psychotropic drugs are valuable tools in treating many mental health disorders, but inappropriate prescribing can cause serious harm.”  I hope that further attention to this cultural epidemic will produce more awareness, guidance, and focus in creating a better and safer society.

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One Comment on “Do doctors too often prescribe antidepressant and anxiety medications? by Anna Mestel”

  1. KNF

    Prior to reading this post, I wasn’t aware that the usage of prescription drugs that are meant to treat anxiety and depression had increased at such a high rate between 2001 and 2010. While I completely agree that abusing such drugs is both immoral and unsafe, I think it is difficult to draw a clear line as to when it is appropriate to prescribe these drugs. Depression and anxiety, like many mental illnesses, are not always visible disorders and it can be difficult to gauge the necessity of such drugs given that their is no medical way to “accurately” measure mental illness. Perhaps part of the problem is not simply that these drugs are inappropriately prescribed to patients who do not need them, but that the wrong dosage is given to patients or there should be a better process in place to slowly increase dosages over a given amount of time rather than prescribing a high dosage from the start.
    I also think that from a deontological perspective you could create a moral maxim that all patients with an illness, medical or physical, have the right to appropriate medical treatment. Because depression and anxiety both exist on a spectrum, a patient’s needs can vary and there’s no clear indication as to whom that moral maxim can apply and to whom it cannot, which reinforces that prescription of such drugs is harder to strictly regulate. Overall I think this is a really interesting topic that also makes me question the biology of mental illness and the scientific certainty that doctors have in prescribing drugs to treat such disorders, which is most likely much higher than it is when treating physical illnesses.

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