A few years ago, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) looked at antidepressant use in 25 countries and found something startling. In every single country the OECD looked at, antidepressant use was on the rise.
In Germany, antidepressant use had risen 46% in just four years. In Spain and Portugal, it rose about 20% during the same period. Iceland led the pack in overall use with about one in ten people taking a daily antidepressant — but that figure may underestimate the actual rate of use, since that calculation isn’t restricted to just adults.
The United States was not included in the OECD analysis (we’ve added it to the chart below), but if it had been, it would knock Iceland out of the top spot: 11% of Americans over the age of 12 take an antidepressant.
Antidepressant use is not an accurate window into rates of depression. Instead, the popularity of antidepressants in a given country is the result of a complicated mix of depression rates, stigma, wealth, health coverage, and availability of treatment.
The OECD suggests two possible reasons the rate of antidepressant consumption is on the rise in so many countries. The course of treatment lasts longer than it used to, and antidepressants are now prescribed not only for severe depression, but also for mild depression, anxiety, social phobia, and more.
Among Americans, 60% of people taking antidepressants have been taking them for at least two years; 14% have taken them for 10 years or more.
Central-nervous-system agents today constitute the fastest growing sector of the pharmaceutical market, accounting for 31% of total sales in the United States.
This trend is fraught with danger. Some people take the wrong medication; others get an old or contaminated batch, some a counterfeit; others take them in dangerous combinations with other prescriptions. Some drugs are addictive, others have devastating emotional and physical side effects. Every year a million people—3 to 5% of all hospital admissions—are admitted primarily because of a negative reaction to medications. The situation has become especially exacerbated by the medical profession’s propensity to dole out medication like candy for the slightest sign of depression, anxiety, or insomnia, helping make drugs like Prozac, Buspar, and Paxil as chic in the suburbs as crack is in the inner city. This has led to a virtual plague of legal drug addiction.
Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) is a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. CES is the anti-drug—the non-pharmacological alternative—a unique and viable bio-electric approach which enhances the homeostasis of the biological central nervous system—the tendency for intrinsic balance within a system. User-friendly, it employs mild battery-powered electrical stimulation through clip-on electrodes attached to the earlobes or pre-gelled electrodes placed behind the ears. Current flow is limited so that the most the patient experiences during the process is nothing more than a slight tingling sensation. There are virtually no negative side effects. Gently adding energy back to all parts of the brain, CES helps return the user to the optimum state in effect before stressors were activated.
CES impacts most directly by reducing anxiety. This is often experienced in the course of treatment; for others, hours, or several days after. CES leaves the patient feeling both relaxed and alert. The effect differs from pharmaceutical treatments in that people report their body as feeling lighter and more relaxed and their mind, more alert and clear. Results are cumulative and lasting. For those suffering from depression and anxiety, CES means relief with none of the unpleasant side effects of prescription drugs. For those seeking nothing more than a good night’s sleep, it is an alternative to habit-forming tranquilizers. For a public increasingly concerned with the effects of stress on physical health and emotional well being, CES provides a way of addressing that stress in a safe and effective manner.
CES is a treatment modality with an ethic – that of self-regulation. Its goal, wellness—a state of proper alignment—the balanced interplay of body and mind attained through personal empowerment rather than dependency. The CES ethic believes that increased reliance on external drugs interferes with that self-regulatory process, reducing our ability to cope. That to reclaim control of our lives we have to learn how to alter that chemical composition and reorient that circuitry, not through dependency but by activating, strengthening, and effectively employing our own inner resources. CES—a treatment modality whose time has come.