A Review of Women's
Psychotropic Drug Use
Some of the factors readily identified by epidemiologists and medical sociologists as contributing to the higher consumption of psychotropic drugs by women is that women frequently define their symptoms poorly, and the physicians' frustrated responses to these vague symptoms cause them to view these symptoms as "trivia" (Mechanic 1970). Additionally, the number of prescriptions per physician visit has been increasing, so that currently one prescription is written per physician visit (Coleman and Patrick 1970). Also, the vague, poorly defined complaint makes it likely that the prescribed medication will be equally nonspecific—that is, a tranquilizer.
This paper reviews the state of our knowledge regarding the consumption of psychotropic drugs by women, the characteristics of high- use groups within this population, and attempts to understand differences between the sexes in help-seeking behavior and pathways to the health care system that can explain these data.