pill_spill.jpgThe New York Times has an article about the increasing willingness of young people to ‘prescribe’ themselves, and their friends, psychiatric drugs:

For a sizable group of people in their 20’s and 30’s, deciding on their own what drugs to take – in particular, stimulants, antidepressants and other psychiatric medications – is becoming the norm. Confident of their abilities and often skeptical of psychiatrists’ expertise, they choose to rely on their own research and each other’s experience in treating problems…

Perhaps, this is a curious result of consumer cynicism about the links between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession.

Drug marketing, in the USA at least, can be legally targeted at consumers, rather than at doctors only. Much of the marketing gives the impression that medications are low-risk and widely beneficial, when the reality can be far more complex.

Despite the fact that many psychiatric drugs can be of great value in treating mental distress or impairment, most will cause some form of side-effect and many are still without evidence of their long-term safety.

Rather than distrusting the pharmaceutical industry, which is usually cited as having an untoward influence on medical practice, young self-confident consumers may have, ironically, fallen for the ‘pill for every ill’ marketing hype and focused their cynicism largely on the medical profession.

Link to reg free NYT article ‘Young, Assured and Playing Pharmacist to Friends’ (via BrainBlog).

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