40% more of us have been prescribed anti-depressants
That’s the statistic in the news this morning; the rise having been measured over the last 4 years.
There are various factors attributed to the increase: the downturn in the economy leading to unemployment and financial difficulties, the improvement of diagnosis, and the lessening of stigma around depression leading more people to ask for help from their GP. And none of that could be logically naysayed.
It’s my *belief however that although these factors no doubt contribute to the increase in prescriptions for drugs that act on our brain chemistry, it is also an indication that we are a society in crisis. I think we have literally lost ourselves amongst all the public selves we construct relative to others public selves, and have constructed for us by the market, education, politicians.
Yesterday I met a girl. I would say, and I have no medical qualification to say this but I have and do work in mental health settings, she is showing some signs of depression. The outward trigger was apparently a lack of money, but on further discussion with her it transpired the lack of money had led not just to practical problems, but was linked to self esteem. And the low self esteem issue, partly engendered or reinforced by lack of money, was compounded by the person’s comparison to others in her circle with more money. And the money represented spending power to create a picture the person has painted in their head about about an imminent life event. That picture is partly generated internally, but it is also linked to and informed by the pervasive images that surround us about how things should look. So we can talk about how humans need to be, but that message is lost because people have been utterly seduced by things and looks. Are we losing sight of our inner selves in the shadow of a manufactured public self which society and the market has shaped and has a vested interest in medicating so that wider society can avoid having to change?
Consumerism has created consumers and the distress that is engendered when they cannot maintain previous levels of consumption is very real.
The sad part of it is that most consumption is entirely ephemeral. No-one asks their lives to be measured at the end in terms of the flat screen tvs, flash motors, or designer clothes they enjoyed. We are being made ill, to some extent, by an illusion and that needs to change but it won’t unless people want it to. And you can bet that the market doesn’t want that at all.
And of course, it’s all good news for the drug companies.
*My bias is this: I have been depressed on various anti-depressants in the past, and I have been depressed without them. No doubt I will be depressed again at some time or another because that is the human condition. I definitely prefer the latter for myself now, but recognise that sometimes, for some people, the drugs do work, so this is not an anti-anti-depressant post…