SYP 4570 UF Advertising & Influence of Self Diagnosis of Psychiatric Illness Essay

Topic: Advertising Medication, Media, and the Influence of Self-Diagnosis of Psychiatric Illness: Better Living Through Chemistry? Could advertising for psychiatric medication increase the likelihood of self-diagnosis? How might this impact the labeling of mental illness as deviant? 


“In late 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidelines that allowed pharmaceutical companies to air prescription drug ads on television. These guidelines have expanded the pharmaceutical industry’s role as one of the major “engines” of medicalization. One arena in which there has been a dramatic increase in direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of pharmaceuticals is the marketing of psychotherapeutic drugs, especially for depression. Because medicalization is thought to reduce blame and stigma attached to deviant conditions such as mental illness, the rise of DTCA for depression drugs may alter public conceptions of mental illness in general and of depression specifically.” (Payton and Thoits, linked article.)

Direct-to-consumer advertising of psychotropic medications has created controversy. The concern rests on self-diagnosis, increased frequency of prescriptions and consumer and physician behavior. In the article by Donohue and Berndt, researchers look at the impact of marketing on the choice of antidepressant drugs. In the Rubin excerpt, the author focuses specifally on media messages about psychotropic drugs and provides some research data on the influence of television.Neuroleptics (antipsychotic medications used to treat the positive symptoms associated with schizophrenia) are marketed directly to consumers as an “add-on” medication for antidepressant users. Abilify is an example. They are a dopamine antagonist and can have severe permanent side effects, including akinesia, tardive dyskinesia, and Parkinson’s disease. 


Three short articles are required for this assignment, along with the Unit 6 materials. I have also provided a few quick video links addressing advertising budgets and the medicalization of illnesses. 

“Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertisement and Prescribing Practices: Evidence Review and Practical Guidance for Clinicians.” By Franquiz and McGuire, 

‘I’d rather not take Prozac’: stigma and commodification in antidepressant consumer narratives.” By Regina SmardonActions

Effects of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising on Medication Choice: The Case of Antidepressants by Julie M. Donohue and Ernst R. Berndt.Actions

3 minute video: Ex-Pharmaceutical Rep: Billions Spent on Drug Ads to an external site.

Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau is a former 10-year Pharma Sales Rep and writer/director of the feature film “Side Effects” starring Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy). In this video, she discusses the billion-dollar psycho/pharmaceutical marketing campaign designed to get millions of people on psychotropic drugs through slick drug ads and marketing campaigns that include ghostwriting pro-drug articles for medical journals.

1 minute video: Antidepressant Drug Spoof: Tripolar Disorder to an external site.

This video is a parody antidepressant drug commercial, but FDA-documented side effects of antidepressants are real. Citizens Commission on Human Rights International – visit 

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