Recession and rise in antidepressant prescriptions

Posted to Statistics  |  Tags: , ,  |  Nathan Yau

Over the past four years there was a 43 percent increase in prescriptions for antidepressants. Some news outlets attribute this rise to the recession. People more depressed equals more drugs. Ben Goldacre of Bad Science explains why said outlets need to be more careful with their analyses.

From what I can tell, all the reports took an aggregate (the 43 percent) and then made a big assumption to explain it. I’m all for data journalism, but statistics is rarely that straightforward.


  • Why are all kinds of prescription drug sales going up? Because we have them – they are promoted and many people lead unhealthy lifestyles that lead to health problems.

  • I like how you linked to Ben Goldacre – without his blog I would have probably ended up believing stupid health advice newspapers and television gives.

    This is the usual error that is made so many times. Correlation does not equal causation! Or even finding a correlation and randomly adding a cause to it.


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