A Link Between Psychiatric Drug Use & Divorce?


If the stress of a contested divorce in Pasadena has pushed you to seek the help of a therapist or psychiatrist, you're not alone. Divorces can be emotionally draining; many people rely on mental health professionals to help them during a breakup. Now a surprising new study finds that one in four women in the United States take at least one anti-psychotic medication for depression, ADHD, anxiety or other mental disorders. Lawyers and mental health professionals alike are wondering if there is any link between the divorce rate and the explosion in use of psychiatric drugs.

The Wall Street Journal reports that new pharmacy-claims data show that overall use of psychiatric medication among adults grew 22 percent from 2001 to 2010.

"People from all walks of life are taking medications for mental health conditions," says David Muzina from Medco Health Solutions Inc., the company that conducted and published the report this week.

Women, in particular, saw a huge jump in psychiatric drug use. Medco reports that 21 percent of American women used the drugs in 2001 while 26 percent in 2010 say they were taking psychiatric medications. Eleven percent of middle-aged women are taking anti-anxiety medication, almost double the number of men who take them. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 30 to 40 percent of individuals undergoing divorce report a significant increase of symptoms of anxiety and depression.

"Any life change is anxiety- and stress-producing but divorce is one of the worst because it creates an unknown, unpredicted situation with lots of insecurity, low self-esteem and fear," says Lucina Bassett of the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety.

Medco's Muzina notes that many women are prescribed these medications after going through traumatic events like loss of loved one or divorce, events which can bring on feelings of depression or anxiety. Yet he believes that many times, the use of such medications isn't warranted and finds the results of the study to be shocking.

"My belief is that the report will surprise physicians and make them think whether or not their use is warranted," he said in an interview withJournal.

Muzina says that the side effects of psychiatric medications should be a concern to both patients and doctors and that individuals who are prescribed these drugs should be closely monitored by physicians.