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Free Content Anatomy of an Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

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Over the past 50 years, there has been an astonishing increase in severe mental illness in the United States. The percentage of Americans disabled by mental illness has increased fivefold since 1955, when Thorazine—remembered today as psychiatry's first "wonder" drug—was introduced into the market. The number of Americans disabled by mental illness has nearly doubled since 1987, when Prozac—the first in a second generation of wonder drugs for mental illness—was introduced. There are now nearly 6 million Americans disabled by mental illness, and this number increases by more than 400 people each day. A review of the scientific literature reveals that it is our drug-based paradigm of care that is fueling this epidemic. The drugs increase the likelihood that a person will become chronically ill, and induce new and more severe psychiatric symptoms in a significant percentage of patients.
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Keywords: antidepressants; antipsychotics; epidemic; mental illness; schizophrenia

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Cambridge, MA

Publication date: 01 January 2005

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