A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney has revealed that Australians have doubled their use of antidepressants between 2000 and 2011. The study also found that the past 10 years has seen a 58 percent increase in the Australian’s use of psychotropic drugs.

“Australians are increasingly relying on the use of psychotropic meds to treat their mental health problems,” said Professor Iain McGregor from the university’s School of Psychology and senior author of the study. “These results are surprising, somewhat worrying, and raise the question of why so many of us need drugs to be able to cope with modern life. The heavy use of antidepressants may reflect their increasing use in conditions other than depression: everything from anxiety disorders to treating pain.”

McGregor also pointed out that these medications are constantly promoted by big pharma over simpler methods like changing their lifestyle, diet and exercise — even turning to talk therapy. These types of drugs are used to treat just about everything, from ADD and depression to dementia and obsessive compulsive disorders. It appears as if antidepressant medications like Paxil or Effexor are the “go-to” drug of choice for doctors and patients alike.

The problem with this significant increase in antidepressant use is that all of these drugs cause serious side effects that can worsen the patient’s condition or create new ones. For example, antidepressants can cause patients to develop violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior. Some side effects linked to Paxil and Effexor and other antidepressants affect more than just the patient. Those medications also cause birth defects (PPHN, spina bifida, oral clefts) in babies whose mothers take the drugs while pregnant.

While big pharma may not intend for so many disasters to occur with the use of their drugs, they are still heavily promoting their use even after knowing the health consequences. Clearly the bottom line is worth more to big pharma than their patients’ health. If you feel symptoms of depression, it may help to try drug-free treatments before you accept your doctor’s prescriptions.