Depression

The role of medications in American society has changed greatly over many years. As lecture 5.2 discusses, there has been a shift from medicalization to biomedicalization in our culture. I believe this shift in our role of medications has a lot to do with mass media. The internet and television are very good at altering our beliefs about certain things and they tempt us to buy many things that we were never exposed to years ago. Many years ago, we were only concerned with controlling illnesses and symptoms that we would come across. We simply wanted to feel normal and healthy. Now, we go above and beyond just feeling normal. We want to feel our absolute best and superior to what we used to feel. If it’s possible to achieve something greater than normal, the mass media makes sure that we are aware that it is possible. The lecture discusses how if we flip through a magazine we will see advertisements about pills that can make us happier or surgeries to make our noses straighter. Another example is a Rogaine advertisement that claims that the product can help you grow more hair back to make you look better. Our society is so focused on being the healthiest and best looking that we can be. We believe that this will lead us to more happiness and a better life.

This is a pretty stereotypical advertisement that one may see on television about depression. It explains how you may feel when suffering from depression and how Zoloft can help. In our culture, it is clear that some people believe there is a pill for everything. Depression is seen as a weakness and something that needs to be fixed. Depression is associated with being broken and not being a successful person. In the commercial, the people with depression are symbolized by the ball that is covered by a rain cloud. This shows how we see depressed people. Once the ball is treated with Zoloft, the rain clouds go away and the sun comes out, which shows how much better we visualize people without depression. There is a voiceover in the commercial that discusses the symptoms of depression and there is also an animation about chemical imbalances that causes depression. The voiceover also discusses the side effects of the medicine. We do not actually see a human or doctor in the commercial, rather it is all animated. The commercial is short, sweet, and to the point which may attract people with depression.

Karim, Taz. “Lecture 5.2 Trends in Biomedicine.” ANP 204 Course Website. East Lansing, MI, July 30, 2014. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/schedule/week-5-lecture-2/

YouTube. “Original Zoloft Commercial.” YouTube. Accessed July 30, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twhvtzd6gXA

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tyler Lambert says:

    In my opinion the media and economy are the biggest forces in aiding in the re-framing of depression as an illness. With advertisements like the own you posted the social stigma about depression is only worsening. The rain cloud feeling described in the commercial gives a bad image to those with depression. Anyone who is depressed for even a short time period might seek drugs like Zoloft because of the advertisements portrayal of the illness. The Conrad article discusses that patients can be active collaborators in their own medicalization. With more access to advertisements like Zoloft more people will seek out treatment for depression. The economic force behind depression comes from pharmaceutical companies making new drugs to treat illness that might not actually be an illness if it weren’t for the cultural perception. Mild depression and low testosterone in men comes to mind. The Conrad article mentions ADHD, PTSD, PMS, fibromyalgia as new medical categories in the last few decades. Pharmaceutical companies are able to make advertisements that appeal to a great percentage of the general population and somewhat skew the person beliefs about a particular illness. The financial gain for these companies is massive. The consequences to treating these new illnesses has not been understood yet. The media and economic gains are the two largest forces that now re-frame depression as an illness that requires biomedical intervention.
    Peter Conrad and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47 (2000): 559-582, Accessed July 31, 2014.

  2. Jamila Carver says:

    In the post it was said that a depressed person is broken and not being a successful person. Culturally our world focuses on people who are positive, have a complete mind set when making right decisions and that healthy enough to advance successfully to be able to make it in the world. If a person is depress it will be going against the social norms that will possibly cause problems in the political world, meaning that if a person acts out of the ordinary, depending on the act can catch the eye of the judicial system where the person is violating a law because of the illness. Where this can be further affected in the economic stance where the public might have to pay for such institution for these kinds of people with these illnesses which can still cause a domino effect for other problems. In this cause we can think of resolving depression with biomedical intervention as a collective action, rather than a result of “medical imperialism”(Conrad 2000), where we can further help the society, and prevent for worse actions to happen. With some illnesses it would be better to think about the long term outcomes of not treating it versus treating illnesses, and thinking about the society and environment as a whole, rather than the fraction of the people who are unhealthy.

    Conrad, Peter , and Deborah Potter . “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories .” Social Problems 47: 559-582.

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