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.


Famous Movie Quotes as Charts

In celebration of their 100-year anniversary, the American Film Institute selected the 100 most memorable quotes from American cinema, and …

Think Like a Statistician – Without the Math

I call myself a statistician, because, well, I’m a statistics graduate student. However, the most important things I’ve learned are less formal, but have proven extremely useful when working/playing with data.

Real Chart Rules to Follow

There are rules—usually for specific chart types meant to be read in a specific way—that you shouldn’t break. When they are, everyone loses. This is that small handful.

Interactive: When Do Americans Leave For Work?

We don’t all start our work days at the same time, despite what morning rush hour might have you think.