Misdiagnosing Depression

Everyone has become so comfortable to taking medication for everything and anything especially when prescribed by a doctor. Having a pill solve your issues is surely appealing but it is not always the best. Doctors have definitely started to inappropriately diagnose and prescribe patients. About 65% of people in the United States take prescribed drugs according to the CDC website. The most commonly prescribed are pain medications, lipid lowering agents, and antidepressants. Antidepressants are the second most commonly prescribed drug in the United States, just after cholesterol-lowering drugs says Brendan Smith in his article, “Inappropriate Prescribing.” Now more than ever children and adolescents are being diagnosed with depression and being prescribed medication. Perhaps this new access to technology has something to do with more people suffering from mental disorders or they are simply being misdiagnosed. Increased diagnoses mean we might also be turning normal human experience into a disease.

“They (teenagers) are the post-9/11 generation, raised in an era of economic and national insecurity. They’ve never known a time when terrorism and school shootings weren’t the norm. They grew up watching their parents weather a severe recession, and, perhaps most important, they hit puberty at a time when technology and social media were transforming society,” wrote Susan Schrobsdorff in an article for TIME. These are all things doctors, family members, and people need to take into consideration when dealing with teenagers who might seem to be over dramatizing their “feelings.” Teenage years are very turbulent, with a lot of ups and downs so it can definitely be hard to recognize when someone is actually suffering from a mental illness. Also many people will have more than one disorder or illness, which can lead to someone being misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosing patients can be very dangerous for many reasons. It also leads to wrongly prescribing a patient. For instance, many patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed with major depression and are placed on antidepressants. Antidepressants tend to trigger manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder, increasing the severity of their illness rather than treating it. The longer a person has to wait for proper treatment, the longer their life remains on hold and in danger. Acquiring the proper diagnosis is critical to the patient’s recovery.

As Lloyd Sederer mentioned in his article, “Over-prescribing and Under-performing,” the issue is not having bad doctors or nurses. The problem is that our health care system has not established mental health services in primary care settings. For example screening for mental health problems and on-site mental health clinicians would deter some of the misdiagnosing. A specialty mental health system that is accessible and adequately meets the needs of youth, adults and families is also needed. More and more children and adolescents are being misdiagnosed and wrongly prescribed. Something more available to the youth is necessary; for example in school mental health clinics. The result of not having mental health care available causes extraordinary pressure to control behaviors by immediate measures, like medications, which are being handed out like candy. Many adolescents are claiming to have depression more and more each day. Even though depression might sometimes seem unreal in teenagers we should push for increased awareness and education of a very real psychological illness.