The Medicalization of Depression or How I Found a Window

by | May 8, 2012

Depression is not a furry blue blanket. It’s not a cute cartoon or a lady with an adorable puppy running through a field of grass. Pharmaceutical companies have wrapped up the word “depression” into a pretty pink bow.

Depression is big business.

These companies have made depression into an enterprise. With flashy advertising, shifting and changing chemical ingredients, and manipulated doctors, the pharmaceutical companies are loving the word “depression” right now. They are praying on innocent people like you and me fooling us into thinking there is a pill to cure all worries.

But the truth is there is not.

Depression is universal.

Some 21 million Americans suffer from depression each year. The number is sure to be much greater if you look at the world, but those statistics are hard to come by. Mainly because depression has become very much an “American thing.”

Americans like labels.

Since the beginning of this young country Americans have been very clear on definitions. Even in the first few words of the constitution our need for definition remains clear: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

And so we have defined depression as an affliction that needs serious medical intervention.

We have packaged it into an illness that only preys on the weak: a worn out single mother, a soldier returning from war, or a teenager who keeps to himself.

But in all this labeling and medicalizing we are forgetting to humanize.

Depression doesn’t discriminate.

Of course Americans are depressed but so is the rest of the world.

We live in a very trying time. Every day people are losing their jobs, sending their sons or daughters off to war, or finding themselves evicted from their homes.

We may not want to call it a Depression but when the unemployment line stretches out the front door, and foreclosed homes are deteriorating around us, we have to stop and wonder about these poor souls. The weed infested yard where a child once played. Or the dinning room that once held family dinners, now covered in dust.

We are living through a Depression.

And how could we not be?

Pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe that popping a pill will make this all go away.

Stay drugged up, stay numb, that way when bad things happen you just won’t feel it.

I hate to break it to you but pill popping only keeps us quiet and complacent.

And don’t get me wrong some people need antidepressants and I’m not knocking them at all.

I’m just saying that depression affects everyone in one way or another. It is part of the human condition of suffering.

There are times in my life I have been very depressed, it is only now, years later, that I am admitting that to myself.

I would sit in the dark. I would cry. I would isolate myself from the outside world. They tried to put me on pills. I refused. I wallowed in it. I sat with it and eventually I pulled myself out.

And everyone at some point in their lives has been in that dark room. It’s not a nice place but it teaches you a lot about yourself.

If you are in that room right now I hope you will find a window. I hope you will know that you are not alone.

21 million. Just in the US.

How can you be alone?

I hope that you know that even if you take that pill in that pretty packaging you are still going to have to do the rest of the climbing on your own.

It’s a dark world sometimes. It’s a dark room.

But there is always a window.




  1. Ace

    awesome and your right about american commercials depressing have a great blog I wish I knew about this sooner lol or was on it sooner.

    • sookton

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Marcia

    Wow, Suki! This kind of rocked me. Thanks for summing up my thoughts. I also learned to believe that when we numb ourselves we are preventing growth from happening. This world could be so beautiful if we truly felt pain and vowed to make changes to help prevent suffering. There is always an open window. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but put very eloquently!


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