“Xanax Makes Me a Better Mom,” written by Shawn Bean, Executive Editor of Parenting Magazine, appears in the March 2013 issue. The article discusses the rising number of parents who currently take antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.
This article reports the following statistics.
1-5 American adults take at least one type of medication to treat behavioral or psychological problems.
21% of fathers will experience one or more episodes of depression by their child’s 12th birthday.
28% of stay at home moms report feeling depressed compared to 17% of working moms.
There has been a 264% rise in psychiatric drug use among women ages 20-44 over the past ten years.
Bean writes, “A record number of moms and dads are taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, but some experts believe we’re just dealing with the everyday roller coaster of parenthood with a small blue pill.”
Allen Horwitz, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University and author of the book, The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sadness Into Depressive Disorder, states, “The psychiatric community has reclassified normal human sadness as an abnormal experience.”
According to Horwitz, “We’ve become less tolerant of negative emotions.”
Horwitz uses the example of the colicky baby. When a baby is colicky the parents become fatigued. They usually don’t get a lot of sleep and feel irritable and overwhelmed. This usually goes on for over two weeks, which is the standard amount of time to measure depression.
So are we looking at a depressive disorder or just a fatigued parent? And if we are looking at a fatigued parent, should that parent be treated with psychiatric medication?
In this article, Carol Lieberman, MD., a psychiatrist and faculty member at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior reports, “The medication is a band-aid to combat the symptoms while you work on the root problem.” She goes on to say, “You should not take psychiatric medication unless you are in psychotherapy.”
Katherine Nordal, Ph.D, The American Psychological Association’s Executive Director of Professional Practice states, “Compared with medication, psychotherapy has fewer side effects and lower instances of relapse.” Nordal reports that the APA is working to promote talk therapy, but she says that it is an uphill battle against seemly endless TV commercials promoting psychiatric medication.
Are we a society that is just looking for a quick fix in the form of a pill?
Are we less tolerant of negative emotions today or are we really more anxious and depressed?
Should people go on antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications without investing in psychotherapy and other treatments?
Can medication be a band-aid?
How do you feel about using medication to get through a temporary crisis?
I have my own thoughts on all of these questions, but this one is for you. I would love to hear from you.
Bean, Shawn. (2013, March) “Xanax Makes Me a Better Mom.” Parenting Magazine.