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Anti-depressants and perceptions of Mental Illness

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Hey everyone,

This article on the bbc today was an interesting read: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22040733
(It's a long'un, but it's worth it :))

It's about anti-depressants and social perceptions of mental illness. As a bit of a summary, it says, 'prozac has altered the national discourse about mental illness'.

I don't know if people think of being on medication or anti-depressants as 'trendy' anymore.... so it got me thinking about our attitudes toward anti-depressants (personal and social). :chin:

It would be interesting to know what others think?

Will Self is on Radio 4 on Sunday talking about The Prozac Economy if you're interested :thumb:

Take care,
*helenmelon*

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I have a range of views on antidepressants and the construct of 'mental illness', depending on whether I'm coming from a personal, academic or social stance. I think that article makes several valid points that are important to think about.

    The whole issue would be a lot more straight forward if there was a 'depression test' with a yes/no outcome. it is common for people to say 'there is a difference between being depressed and having depression' and I do agree with that to an extent, but i also don't believe that it can categorically be said that Person A is just feeling depressed whilst Person B is suffering from depression, just because one scored slightly higher on a questionnaire than the another. the article mentions Prozac being prescribed to people who have had a negative life event, which really concerns me. I know plenty of people who have a bereavement or lose their job and get put on antidepressants, which I really don't agree with. in situations like that people need someone to talk to and to help them make sense of what has happened to them. people need to learn to build their resilience to life events and simply medicating them to numb the pain when they are reacting perfectly reasonably to a difficult event won't do that. I worry about the medicalisation of human suffering, which is ever increasing - later this year grief will be classed as a mental illness. yes, the symptoms of depression and grief are similar, but grief is a reasonable, normal response to loss. bereavement charities are more pushed than ever and perhaps a prescription from the doctor is all there is out there to support people, and that's a terrible thing.

    I also worry about the rise of the 'sickness' approach to depression. i like ruby wax very much as an advocate for mental health awareness, but it concerns me how she constantly speaks of her 'brain disease' because it gives the impression that depression is purely chemical and therefore should only be treated with medication. yes, there is a link between neurotransmitter levels and depression, but it is not clear whether the chemicals cause the depression or the depression alters the chemicals. even the most qualified psychiatrists would admit that antidepressant treatment is basically a guessing game; it isn't known exactly how or why they work, or why they help some people but not others. to me, that makes it even more worrying that people are given antidepressants after a five minute GP appointment. of course a massive issue is service provision and medication can be given out instantly without a six month waiting list. but a consequence of this is that people who are feeling low are not being given the skills to cope, but are merely being chemically altered with drugs that the medics don't actually understand.

    I do think there is a place for antidepressants and I would be a complete hypocrite if I didn't, but I think that the increased awareness of them has caused more people to think that they need to pop to the doctor and ask for some pills when they feel low, rather than trying to work through the problem. equally, doctors hand out prescriptions without a second thought because human suffering has become something that is wrong and must be fixed like you'd fix a broken arm. it is definitely the case that a severe episode of depression is like a sickness, and that a chemical lift has to be given to lift the person from the depths of despair. but seeking equality between physical and mental health care does not mean exclusively treating them with the same approach. mental health deserves the same amount of time, finding and understanding as physical health, but it requires a completely different approach.

    I haven't really experienced the 'popularity' of depression and Prozac, except possibly in Internet communities. I have to say though that from what i've seen, the new badge of honour for those that like to self-diagnose seems to be BPD. maybe depression is old news.
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