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Women and Psychiatric Medication

February 28, 2015

In this New York Times Opinion piece by Dr. Julie Holland, (3/1/15) we are told the alarming statistic that more than one in four American women takes psychiatric medications. Even more alarmingly, Dr Holland reports that the most commonly prescribed medication in the US today in all specialties is Abilify, which is an anti-psychotic  that has serious potential side-effects including weight gain and diabetes. Originally developed as an important safer alternative to the older class of anti-psychotics like thorazine and haloperidol for the treatment of schizophrenic and manic psychosis, it is now widely used (and widely marketed to the public) to stabilize mood, ease depression and control behavior, including in children.

Women’s evolutionary emotional sensitivity and responsiveness to others are too often seen as symptoms to be treated, than as important tools in managing the social and familial environment. Despite the great social changes of the last century women still are inhibited from using their emotions as powerful signals that can guide action and change. Many women are still afraid of expressing anger when appropriate, and continue to stifle themselves, their emotions and therefore their potential. And if a quarter of American women are taking tranquillizers and mood-modifying drugs to stifle their emotional responses,  shouldn’t we be asking if too many voices are being silenced, too many opportunities for growth and change are being lost?

While the pharmaceutical executives become multibillionaires, our nation’s social/cultural/emotional richness and diversity is being increasingly impoverished.


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