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Zombie Nation

Do you know what the top-selling class of pharmaceuticals is in America today? Let me give you a hint, it’s not cholesterol lowering drugs, or heartburn inhibitors; not antihypertensives, anti-inflammatories, or antibiotics, the top selling drugs today are antipsychotic drugs.
A decade ago antipsychotic drugs were for people who were delusional and hallucinating (the schizophrenias and bipolar manias). Now they are prescribed for people with chronic anxiety, depression, attention problems, and temper tantrums, who are invariably also taking other medications. More than half a million kids take antipsychotic drugs. In the U.S., nearly 1 child in 10 is diagnosed with ADHD, a 25% rise in the last 10 years. Fully 25% of nursing home residents use them (NYT, 10/3/10); in spite of the fact that we know these drugs can be fatal to older people, and have no idea about the long-term effects on children.

Antipsychotic medication generates revenues of about $16 billion annually. Every major pharmaceutical company that manufactures antipsychotic’s, aggressively markets these drugs as supplements to existing treatments for people suffering from diverse conditions like chronic pain and impulsive behaviors.

It is my strong belief that we psychiatrists are prescribing too many drugs for too many non-existent diseases. This is the result of a business relationship between pharmaceutical manufacturers and the psychiatric establishment (from psychiatrists to medical schools). They both are colluding in defining unacceptable behaviors as mental illnesses, for which medications can be prescribed. In the last 10 years alone, we have expanded the diagnosis of bipolar disease more than 40 fold. 25% of all Americans are now labeled as mentally ill with diagnoses ranging from anxiety, stress, self-control problems, and mood disorders.

We must stop supporting this cultural myth that if you’re feeling or behaving anything other than wonderfully in every moment, that you could be suffering from a disease.There is no pill that eliminates all of life’s discomforts. Find alternatives to drugs to face what’s bugging you. Talk to people you like and respect, do some new things, and find out what your problems have to teach you, and then move on. We are manufacturing mental illnesses, prescribing too many drugs, and turning into a prescription drug addicted zombie nation.

4 Responses to “Zombie Nation”

  1. Lauren Raine says:

    Thank you! I so much enjoy your blog, as I have your books.
    I was once given a prescription for anti-depressants while going through a divorce – I remember being very disturbed by the “zombie” like feeling they gave me, and stopped taking them, prefering to feel my grief, and seek a counselor. I found that was what helped me to move on to a new stage of life.

  2. Benjamin Tousley says:

    Brilliantly said, but onto mostly deaf ears. In the modern microwave, must have it now, no delayed gratification society, people do not want to hear this message. In my experience, more and more, people have come to expect that all their problems can be solved without effort – ei weight loss by taking a pill, stress by taking a pill. Real life issues take real effort to overcome. Unfortunately, there are less and less dialed in people sending the right message and more and more people only listening to what they WANT to hear.

  3. Barbara Belton says:

    Just talking yesterday with my husband after watching a tv program where they mentioned medicating a vet dx’d with ptsd with the anti-psychotic respiradone (sp?) and 2 benzos. I couldn’t believe it…said to my husband how I hoped this was fictional and wasn’t really happening to our vets. After reading your blog today, I know it is not fictional.
    As someone who has recovered from and is healing from complex pts I am even more grateful this day for a wonderful psychiatrist who did not insist that meds were my only option. He made them available if needed and even suggested that carrying an anti-anxiety med with me in the event I needed it was a sensible plan…and that not taking it would be a healthy decision! I quickly discovered that the anti-anxiety med was a short term assist that caused more difficulties after a few doses. Found a path of healing that did not and does not require pharmaceutical meds….yea! Was it easy? No Was it worth it? Absolutely, yes! Today I am a healthy vital 62 yo looking forward to my elder years.
    As always, thanks, Dr. H!

  4. Ashlie Gonda says:

    Very nice blog! You did make some interesting points I was not aware of, on weight loss. Thank you!

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Dr. Carl A. Hammerschlag, M.D., CPAE is a psychiatrist, author, and professional keynote speaker. He is an authority in the science of psychoneuroimmunology mind, body, spirit medicine and speaks about health and wellness, healing, leadership and authenticity . He has delivered motivational keynote speeches to corporate and business clients around the world.