Depression is a controversial topic, and the condition affects many people around the world. To say that society is “taking the wrong approach with respect to depression” is rather bold. The reason it’s bold is because society is full of many people, and they aren’t all considering depression the same way. Even amongst psychiatrists, psychologists, and other experts, there is some disagreement over what methodologies are most effective for treating depression.
Personally, learning the opinions others hold about depression has, in many cases, led me to become quite angry. Those with depression can have other issues, but getting angry doesn’t require a mental illness, either. Why would someone with depression find its discussion irritating? Well, there are a lot of reasons. A lot of religious groups think they have the solution, and the evidence is quite clear. Even if religion has helped some people with their depression, it is clearly not necessary to deal with the illness. Scientology is a notorious culprit, but there are people from all denominations who claim to have an answer.
Even worse, many people deny depression is a medical condition. They should meet with the flat earth society because it’s been well established as a condition. People wonder how ancient societies denied clear evidence supporting scientific conclusions, but they don’t need to turn to history to be confused. People think they’ve suffered from depression because they’ve been sad, but depression has an inexplicable component to it. It’s more than persistent sadness. Those who claim depression is weakness, for instance, contribute to the further unhappiness of depressed individuals. They are also responsible for promoting an attitude of ignorance that leads to poor funding for mental health programs and a lack of support for depressed individuals.
For awhile, people have gotten behind the anti-medication bandwagon. Scientology is disproportionately wealthy for their membership base, and they are partially responsible for turning people against antidepressants. Furthermore, the economic costs associated with medication, particularly in America, makes people more sympathetic to the idea that the medications are bad. More specifically, people who can’t afford medications just decide that they don’t need those medications anyway. The opposite is true when people can afford things. That new $100 pair of shoes wasn’t needed, but when they make a million a year, they decide it is. Otherwise, they might have to question their choices – why not be charitable, for instance? No matter the circumstances, people are genetically inclined towards seeing things from a perspective that most benefits them. We’ve all had an argument where someone turns everything around to make themselves look good or right.
Essentially, antidepressants aren’t needed because depressed people are just weak or need to exercise, eat healthy, and go to the church social. Maybe that’s what some need, and evidence suggests healthy eating, exercise, and social activity all benefit depressed individuals. However, scientists have established that antidepressants can be effective for many people. This is because individuals don’t always respond to therapy or life changes. Or if they do, they don’t remove their depression entirely. Placebo responses are measured at a predictable rate. They figure out that when given sugar, 30% of people become happier. That’s a fake example, but you get the idea. After that, people are given placebos and the real medication. Suddenly, the medication has a result of 40%. This means that it’s doing something for some people.
What’s 10%? Well, it’s a lot to someone in that 10% who is now seeing a reduction or elimination of their symptoms. Cancer patients often receive treatment with worse odds, and they aren’t told their treatment is pseudoscience (well, once in awhile they are, but not for rational reasons). It’s been shown that the average patient might not benefit much from an antidepressant. This isn’t surprising because depression deals with complex areas of the brain, can be related to diet, other conditions, etc. You don’t want to try and list all the conditions that can cause depression as as symptom. So given that there could be a huge number of reasons for a person’s depression, why should people be surprised if an antidepressant doesn’t help a lot of people. They need different treatment. It’s no different than expecting insulin for diabetics to cure polio. Life just doesn’t work that way. Many patients have to try a variety of treatment options until they find one that works.
Since the introduction of antidepressants, suicide rates have gone down. This means that relative to the number of people in a population, less people are committing suicide. Now it’s not confirmed that this is due to antidepressants, but they are likely a factor considering that depression as a medical condition seems to be occurring more often. So not only are more people depressed, but people are committing suicide less frequently despite that. That’s like 20 people get cancer out of 100 one year, then 40 the next, but instead of 50% dying, 40% dying. More patients and less deaths? What fancy treatment are they giving them, one might ask? Antidepressants work for many patients: fact.
Now society does need to change its approach in some ways, but this is a political statement. The competitive atmosphere of modern society is being shown to negatively impact human health. We might not like it, but people are in many ways hippies. We aren’t embracing our desire to get together and huge, share, and finger paint with one another. Seriously though, working together as a community, being self-directed rather than employed, and receiving society support when in need are all things people benefit significantly from both psychologically and physical. They are in many ways lacking today.
It’s understandable that people confuse things with an issue like depression, but it can be frustrating to those who know the facts. They tend to get garbled amongst political debates and shouting matches. Someone might have had a bad experience with a depression treatment – I certainly have. However, it’s common for people to mistakenly believe that because on person had a bad experience, the entire thing is bad. Their Aunt didn’t like the service at a store, but it might turn out that was a new employee who got fired the same day. Someone might have a bad reaction to a medication, such as an allergy, but their friends might need that same medication to stop an allergic reaction. People are complex physical and psychological beings, and medication, neuroscience, therapy, and social changes are what need to occur to help tackle the issue. Many of these are already in motion.