|Historian and Harvard professor Anne Harrington believes that pharmaceutical companies have played an oversized role in determining how mental illness is treated in the United States — leading to a rise in the use of antidepressant drugs. Harrington’s new book, Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness, chronicles the history of psycho-pharmaceuticals, such as Prozac and Xanax, which have been used to treat depression and anxiety, as well as lithium, the first drug to treat what is now called bipolar disorder.|
There had been an enormous market for anti-anxiety medications. … In 1978, I think something like 2.2 billion pills of Valium were sold in one year. It was the bestselling prescription drug of all time in the 1970s. And it was an anti-anxiety medication, but then it turned out it was addictive, and people couldn’t get off it. The market for the benzodiazepine plummets. But where are these people — what are we going to do for these kinds of patients?