Too Many Too Many’s - Psychiatric Drugs • Posts by EIM | Evidence In Motion Skip To Content

Too Many Too Many’s – Psychiatric Drugs

January 19, 2018 • Pain Science • Tim Flynn

The great experiment of America the pharmaceutical nation continues. One in six U.S. adults reported taking a psychiatric drug, such as an antidepressant or a sedative, in 2013.

Furthermore, the authors found that nearly 85 percent of those who had gotten at least one drug had filled multiple prescriptions for that drug over the course of the year suggesting that eight in 10 adults who have taken psychiatric drugs are using them long term. The most commonly used type of drug was an antidepressant like Zoloft and Celexa which are associated with significant withdrawal symptoms like panic attacks and sleep disruption.

How did we get here? Like many pharmaceutical stories this is multifactorial.It is clear that anxiety related disorders are spiraling upward particularly in our younger population. There is no doubt that the excessive use of social media is creating fears, anxiety, and feelings of being left out. More time on devices and less time exercising and engaging in our natural world and in face to face communication clearly is taking a toll.

However, wherever there is a susceptible population big pharm will not be far behind. Similar to the other pharmaceutical industry stories it is one of selling sickness and pills over alternatives treatments such as exercise, meditation, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral training and counseling services. The sobering paper published in the Journal of Epidemiology noted that there is a massive production of meta-analyses of antidepressants for depression authored by or linked to the industry, and they almost never report any caveats about antidepressants in their abstracts. In fact, meta-analyses including an author who were employees of the manufacturer of the assessed drug were 22-fold less likely to have negative statements about the drug than other meta-analyses.


As physical therapists who are called to transform society we need to continue to find our voice and question the wash of pharmaceuticals that our clients are using. We need to team with like minded professionals committed to safer alternatives to treatments.

When it comes to psychiatric drugs we have Too Many!

Tim Flynn

Dr. Flynn is board certified in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists and the American Physical Therapy Association, and a frequent presenter at state, national, and international meetings. Dr. Flynn is widely published including five textbooks, six book chapters, and over 85 peer-reviewed manuscripts on orthopaedics, biomechanics,...

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Petra Larsson

Commented • July 27, 2018

Actually pills aren't supposed to help with coping at all. They're simply used to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, etc. They're not looked at as a cure. Therapy is the main treatment and medication counts for only 10% of your treatment.

James E Glinn Sr

Commented • January 19, 2018

Also, think of the opportunity immediately following PT- a patient, who maybe for the first time ever, has actually reported for several weeks to a professional and performed at least a modicum of movement. Huge cash based opportunities for the right population of PTs and patients!

Steven Spoonemore

Commented • January 19, 2018

Was there a discussion or analysis of how many of those prescribed psychiatric drugs that had insurance coverage for counseling? Exercise, mindfulness and many other strategies are of little to no cost, mental health services unfortunately continue to be a financial barrier for many.

Brian D'Orazio DPT, MS, OCS

Commented • January 19, 2018

Big Pharma has earned it's reputation of putting profits ahead of meaningful discovery and complicating healthcare delivery through payoffs to legislators that allow these companies to realize increasing capitalization through record stock sales. However, we all know the individual and societal cost of depression and anxiety. It's known causes are many and I suspect it's unknown causes are even greater. Our knowledge of the neuro-pathology of mental health conditions is still in its infancy (maybe toddler phase). As a result, it would be unlikely to develop a medication that serves as a cure, but meds have helped many recover and, as PT's, we can't dismiss their assistance with a patient's care ( and I'm certain you aren't recommending that we do ). I just want to point out the need to make sure we don't become estranged from other aspect of medical care in pursuit of our own "brand" of treatment and risk being viewed as fringe practitioners.

Kory Zimney

Commented • January 19, 2018

Our society seems to be struggling with coping skills, and the primary mechanism for many to help with coping is through a pill.

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