Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Tell me something. Is it me? Or do western people tend to get depressed pretty easily?
I am getting increasingly annoyed at the ease with which western doctors prescribe antidepressants these days.
A friend of mine told me recently she was on medication. I was shocked. Et tu, Brute, I thought.
I asked why. She said she had been somewhat down lately. Personally, I was not convinced she was depressed. Of course, I am not an expert. Depression is a scary, sensitive, dodgy area to me. As a child of a culture where depressed people were kicked up their butts to get on with it or get locked up in a mental home, I find it difficult to believe that so many people can be seriously that ill.
Because, depression is an illness, remember?
What is it with this modern life and western world that makes us all so bloody weak and unable to cope? A friend of mine came up with an interesting theory. She suggested that westerners expect to be always happy. They view it as their right, she said. And when they realize that is not always the case, they...get depressed, of course.
My grandmother had a collection of beautiful tall porcelain dolls when she was a child.
“They were bigger than me! “ she used to tell me excitedly. And each of them had a suitcase of beautiful clothes. My grandmother did not know things could be any different. That was her life. And then, one day, Stalin woke up in a dark mood, and had her parents arrested and then murdered.
And everything was gone. The dolls, the suitcases with silk dresses, the luxurious Persian rugs....everything.
Daughter of the” Enemy of the people”, she struggled to cope with public hatred, poverty and hunger. And then, her little brother died of dysentery.
So let me tell you something. That was worth getting depressed about. That was the kind of a moment in somebody’s life when it would have probably been quite appropriate to get on some strong antidepressants.
But the thing is...In the Soviet era there was no place for easily available drugs.
You either coped, or you got labelled as crazy for the rest of your life.
And, whereas I am not suggesting that those methods were humane or appropriate, I can’t help but compare. Western life, without a proper war, without a real hunger and with no dysentery but only a hyperbolised threat of the swine flu, causes more and more cases of depression from year to year.
Why, I ask you.
More importantly, how do we know when someone is depressed and when they are just a bit miserable and decided to ask their doctor for some drugs to cheer them up? Or, as I suspect it happens in an awful lot of cases, just claim some benefits and stay at home for a while?
A boyfriend trouble? Get some drugs and don’t worry about it! Money problems? Doctors will happily issue you some medication and you will tell the banks where to shove their endless bills. Lost your job? Don’t bother looking for a new one just yet, why not relax for a while and oh, don’t forget some more medication!
The western society cherishes depression, welcomes it and makes it feel at home.
Since when has it become the norm? I googled depression statistics in the UK and found this fascinating data. Just look at this chart!
So, the question is, do people in the west really get depressed a lot because of the increasing pressures of the modern life? Or do we (encouraged by our doctors) just opt for an easy, cheap and quick solution?
Even at work, in the toilet cubicle, instead of something useful, like a picture of a semi-naked Clive Owen, I have to stare at the newly designed poster:
Worried about your personal or professional life? Talk to us, we are here to listen.
Stop talking me into depression! I think, unless something truly horrible happens, I should be able to cope. I would like to think that there is some of my grandmother's spirit hiding inside me, despite the new western me.