Salon.com, my favorite online magazine, asks the question of whether we are really so miserable. After all, 1 of 10 American's is on anti-depressives. Is this a new age of discontent, where we drift through life without meaning, wondering why we exist. Blaming an obscure 1997 law which allowed drug companies to advertise, the article labels this companies as pushers with high priced marketing campaigns. The article quotes a 1947 play, "the Age of Anxiety" and wonders whether we have simply replaced the bottle with what is in the bottles.
There is some truth to this. The marketing campaigns of drug companies have made consumers quite "knowledgeable." As my friend, a urgent care physician notes, I don't diagnosis and prescribe any more, I give my patients what they "demand." This is not a good trend in medicine with people self diagnosis and demanding, instead of seeking counsel and guidance from their physicians. With drugs so readily available, it is possible, as Salon notes, our family doctor is replacing our friendly bartender.
I look at our current situation as a bit different, however. The current economic downturn should have brought our society together. After all, in 1947 we had just clawed our way out of a recession and defeated Nazism. We were probably due to a letdown. In our current situation, by reverse analogy, we should be banning together, our minor mental concerns (and I am not making light of serious depression) pushed aside for the task of making ends meet in a very difficult economic society.
Quite the opposite, instead of pulling together, we are focusing on our differences. We have seniors after all, who are already on national health care, protesting access of uninsured Americans who haven't reached the Golden Years. At that same time, the 47 Million uninsured quietly suffer the lack of insurance without any visible anger; possibly aided by some form of anti-depressant. Maybe if they felt a greater control over their lives, with guaranteed access to health care, and access to financial safety valves like bankruptcy, they would be off the drugs and out in force.