‘Unhinged’ French on cocktail of pills, claims new book

Approximately 200 million boxes of prescription antidepressant drugs are reportedly sold in France annually Photo: ALAMY
Approximately 200 million boxes of prescription antidepressant drugs are reportedly sold in France annually Photo: ALAMY
 Approximately 200 million boxes of prescription antidepressant drugs are reportedly sold in France annually Photo: ALAMY

Approximately 200 million boxes of prescription antidepressant drugs are reportedly sold in France annually Photo: ALAMY

France‘s dubious title as the leading country for consuming antidepressants has created an army of potentially unhinged individuals on a cocktail of inappropriate and dangerous drugs, a new book claims.

Renowned as a land of douceur de vivre, or the sweet life, France is also the country where pill-popping to stave off depression or other mental afflictions has reached new heights.

“More than one in five people in France has taken one of the four families of ‘psychotropic’ drugs – antidepressants, tranquillisers, sleeping pills and antipsychotic drugs – two-thirds of them women. That’s around 10 to 15 million people,” said Guy Hugnet, author of Psychotropic Drugs, the Investigation.

Approximately 200 million boxes of such drugs are sold in France annually, and Mr Hugnet said, “We are world champions, per capita.”

“Psychotropic drugs are useful when used for mental illness or emergencies. But in France, they are used in an anarchic way and only a third of such consumption is justified,” he said.

In 2008, a group of 15 eminent psychiatrists sounded the alarm, by warning of the dangers of what they called “the over-medication of feeling blue” and the inability of French doctors to prescribe alternative forms of treatment, such as psychotherapy.

B