Drugs, Depression and Getting Old

Lynn Dorman, Ph.D. // Aging, human interest


October 20  

pillsSometimes I feel like a broken record…and when it's about drugs, that's sad.

We are are a "take a pill for that" kind of culture.

Look at all the ads on TV: "Ask you doctor if X is right for you."

Pills will [allegedly] make us, the adults, more beautiful, thin, happy, able to have sex at any moment, rosy cheeked, less leaky and more physically active.

And we have pills for our kids. And more sadly, our kids tend to go into the medicine cabinets and do take those adult pills.

Recent surveys now show that the use of antidepressants has increased almost 400% since 1988. These are now among the most frequently used "pills" among  people ages 18-44.

BUT – nearly 25% of women aged 40 to 59 are taking antidepressants!

And many people take more than one kind!

And worse yet – fewer than 1/2 of people taking multiple antidepressants saw a mental-health professional in the year prior to the survey!!

So – what does this say?

  • That we really are more depressed?
  • That we are more affected by those ads on TV?
  • We really think older women are depressed?
  • That it's ok to take a mix of medications without appropriate medical oversight?

These are very serious questions that need serious answers…


Comments? Thoughts? Thank you.

  • I have struggled with depression my whole life. For years I was suicidal and any medication I took for it made me worse. I went through life like a zombie. Recently they have found a medication that works for me. If it were not for this medication, I would be a zombie, or I would not get out of bed. I have tried it both ways and for NOW this is what I have to do. I hope to not be on medication for the rest of my life. But for now I have little choice

    • There is nothing wrong with being on any medication if it is what you need – and I’m glad you found one that helps you. It’s the huge increase that is of concern, especially among older women. I have heard of nursing homes doling out “happy pills” and that worries me.


      • Lynn, I have to agree with your concerns. There are too many on “pills” for little reason. Especially in the nursing homes.

        I truly hate having to take medication to get through the day. It is a personal peeve of mine 🙂 I had just written a post about it and then I saw yours and it hit me all over again about how for so many it is not necessary, and I wish it was not for me. 🙂

  • I think what that may say is that a lot of people have good reason to be depressed right now and that most insurance plans don’t have mental health benefits.

    • That may be – we have medication coverage but no [or low] mental health coverage and I’ve fought for that coverage….but antidepressants need monitoring by mental health practitioners… It’s a sad commentary on our economy and health insurance.


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    About the Author

    Native of NYC who moved a lot, got several degrees, and has been a lifelong writer and reader... I am interested in many things - and I write [and teach] about them - especially the human lifespan and healthy aging

    Lynn Dorman, Ph.D.