The Spaniards and their High Consumption of Pills

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Laura Lillo Pulido

Laura Lillo Pulido

Forensic health psychologist

  • I’m overwhelmed by my job!
    • Then take a pill.
  • I’m feeling a little bit sad lately.
    • Maybe you can try these pills.
  • I’m worried about my health, I’ve lost someone recently.
    • This pill will work for you.
  • I’m bothered by a tic in my leg.
    • I think I have a pill for that right here…
  • I don’t get along with my colleagues.
    • Could we look for a pill to solve that?

Do these conversations sound familiar?

We live in a society that is changing really fast, with a life rhythm in which there is no time to be sick, worried or much less sad. We have been taught that being fast beats the importance of quality. This can be seen in various facets of our lives: the underground metro to travel from one extreme of the city to another in just a few minutes, fast food to get short-term energy, instant messages, automated factories, computers thinking faster than what we could have every imaged…

If we have any health problem we want to solve it as fast as possible and we end up looking for this or that pill. According to a report from the International Narcotics Control Board, Spain has the highest consumption of certain drugs used to treat anxiety or sleep disturbances. After the pandemic this has grown worse: in 2020, sales have augmented a 4.5% with respect to 2019 and a 10% with respect to last decade.

"Spain has the highest consumption of certain drugs used to treat anxiety or sleep disturbances"

Pharmaceuticals or therapy - Where is the problem?

These elevated numbers of pharmacological consumption go beyond cultural aspects. From the journal Público they explain to us that this excessive pharmacological consumption might be due to the clear lack of psychologists in primary health care attention.

Moreover, the Official Psychology School in Spain points also to this lack of clinical psychologists. The guidelines for an adequate clinical practice recommend other ways of treating these mental health issues, through other therapies with enough empirical background as the most efficient treatment. However, as there are not enough available psychologists, these good therapies end up being discarded as the first choice.

Can these pills affect my job performance?

Anxiolytic and Antidepressant drugs have been proven efficient for certain circumstances and they are a crucial support for psychological therapy in the most complex cases. However, they can potentially become a problem when its intake is the default election, as they are likely addictive and they do not treat the main trouble. In this described case, pharmacological therapy is affecting job performance and other vital areas.

Anxiolytic and Antidepressant drug effects

From the journal El Confidencial they remind us that the use of these anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs should be time limited, because they can lead to addiction. Data shows the accumulative buying effect, which explains the fact that patients take these medications way beyond what had been prescribed. 

Also, retiring these chemicals inadequately has other harmful effects, as they explain in the journal Dailymail. 40% of the users reported withdrawal effects when they stop taking these pills. This might reach dizziness, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, convulsions or even suicidal thoughts if they are not retired progressively and in a supervised way. 

You can anticipate the problem

Last 2020 a randomized controlled trial was conducted: 1061 adult patients with emotional disorders received psychological therapy. This study, PsicAP, firmly supports the empirical support to the psychological treatment versus the anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs in anxiety and depression patients. 

So then, what can I do from my company to prevent this issue?

  • Provide the adequate information on time: through articles, news or webinars. Knowing on time certain scientifically contrasted information implies that you are overtaking the problem.
  • Identify complex cases in your organization. Someone who is under a lot of pressure or responsibility, someone who has lost somebody recently, or someone who is really worried about their health might need help.
  • Offer the option to receive psychological tailored support to whoever might need it.


Prevention is key: Count on a professional team

At Wemby we carry out an initial assessment of the problem, later we assign the appropriate professional for each user and design a tailor-made plan. This process is constantly reviewed and when it is finished we offer analytics and a final report of our work.

Despite taking into account all the necessary guidelines, there is nothing better than contacting a team of sufficiently qualified professionals who can help you and your organization as soon as possible. Once again, providing your team with tools and advice on time is the best possible prevention strategy.

About the Author

Hi! I’m Laura Lillo, a forensic and clinical psychologist. I  strongly believe that psychology services should be accessible to all.  I’ve worked in prisons and with kids with risks of social exclusion. This has taught me the importance of constant learning and improvement as a person and as a therapist.

If I’m not cooking, drawing or singing, the most likely scenario is that I’m playing board games. Right now, I’m busy learning and writing content for Wemby, an online psychology platform. During my weekends I’m Game Master in Exit Madrid, a escape rooms company.

Wemby provides online therapy and wellbeing services delivered by experienced psychologists. Our team is here to help you start building your balance and emotional wellbeing today.

Download the app, complete a matching questionnaire and get paired with a therapist with the best licensed professional to match your needs.

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