In today’s society, Americans live in a world completely surrounded by medication. Whether it be for weight loss, erectile disfunction, or certain mental illnesses, we seem to live in a culture that is obsessed with medication. It is very common for people of all ages to take at least one medication. A study found that almost 70% of Americans took some amount of prescription drugs. As we learned in this week’s lecture, in terms of medicalization, we use medications and other medicinal techniques/therapies in order to “control” our bodies and either make them do something or stop doing a particular function. For example, in patients with cancer, they take medications in order to STOP cell division, but in other cases, such as the use of vaccines, we are telling our body to MAKE antibodies against a certain bacteria/organism by injecting small amounts of it into our bodies. However, in terms of biomedicalization, doctors can prescribe medications to ENHANCE our bodies or specifically our physical appearance. Plastic surgery can be performed to fix our noses or get rid of fat, and medications can be prescribed to males with erectile dysfunction for example. I believe that our society relies on having a vast supply and variety of medications in order to make us “healthier” or in order to make our bodies look better. One condition that I believe is heavily biomedicalized is depression. Many Americans at one time in their life will be diagnosed with depression, and so pharmaceutical and advertising companies have marketed many drugs in order to combat the disease and improve overall quality of life. Many pharmaceutical companies have developed drugs to take with an antidepressent in order to improve the symptoms of depression faster than just with an antidepressant alone. The ads that are featured on tv can seem very believable and those with depression are usually willing to try anything in order to feel better, so they are very eager to try the drug. However, I learned in my previous immunology class, that those taking abilify have a significant increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts within in the first few weeks of taking, and so they must be carefully monitored. It is this quick fix desire that we have that allows us to be fooled into taking medication that may have more harmful side effects than benefits.

In this ad for abilify, a woman is pictured who has depression and the her personality clearly depicts a sad and overhwhelmed mother who is not enjoying life. I believe the comercial specifically features a woman in order to target overworked and stressed moms who are suffering from depression and are looking to feel better. The ad states that her antidepressant alone just isn’t enough, so she talked her doctor who recommended abilify. The doctor (who is supposed to be all-knowing and brilliant) tells the woman that she could have improved symptoms in as little as 2 weeks (so of course, why wouldn’t she try it?!), while also listing extreme risks such as increased suicidal thoughts, stroke, seizures, hypertension etc. The end of the commercial shows the woman after taking abilify and she is happy and has a perfect family and is enjoying life. It is that specific desire that makes us so eager to try medications without focusing on the serious and severe consequences.





This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kelly Cummins says:

    I chose to look at this post discussing medication for depression. The medication that the ad is for is Abilify. It is actually a medication that is used to supplement a medication that they are already taking for depression in order to boost the effects of it.

    I find this medication extremely interesting because our society has quickly gone from not medicating for depression at all, to advertising medication that supplements this medication. The first medications for mental illnesses arose in the 1950s. The process that is involved in prescribing these medications is time consuming and delicate because it is important to choose the right type of medication to correct the patient’s mental issues. Our culture highly medicates for mental illnesses and the prevalence of depression in the United States has risen in the recent years. The prevalence rose from 3.3 percent to 7 percent from 1991 to 2002 and is not reported at about 9 percent.

    Our culture has re-framed this condition as an illness because it has become a huge part of our society. This medication is helpful in preventing self-harm and suicide but has also become a crutch for many people and many find that it is a drug that they will take for their remaining lifetime after being prescribed. AS Conrad describes in his article, “domain expansion” has led to this over medicalization of our society. We often try to solve every small issue and problem in our society and this can be done through medications. This medication specifically is a great example because it highlights that for many people, anti-depressants aren’t enough to solve their problems so they use this medication to further boost the effects in order for them to feel normal again. An important question for our society is that if these people still cannot feel normal after taking an antidepressant with Abilify, what can we do to treat this patient now?

    Iliades, Chris. “Stats and Facts About Depression in America – Major Depression Center – Everyday Health.” (accessed August 4, 2014).

  2. Moriah Hill says:

    Depression in American culture is very common, almost every person you meet has been through some form of depression whether it be mild or very severe. The people that poetry the happiest lifestyles could secretly be depressed while the people that mope around looking depressed could very well be that. Everyone has their own definition of what depression is because it varies from person to person, culture to culture, and even depending on your sex. Although to be diagnosed with depression there is certain criteria you have to meet which is out lined in the DSM-IV. People can be unhappy but if the don’t meet the criteria for depression them they are not quite depressed. They may just feel that way.
    I do nott really feel like medications such as ability can necessarily “cure” depression, it is a state of mind. Anti depressants can help with the side effects but without a person willing to change their mindset they will forever be in a dump.
    Like stated above, depression has been reframed as an illness solely off of the simple fact that many people are depressed. Across the world depression is common. Medication like anti depressants may not be the cute in all cultures but in western culture it is because we lean on medicine so heavily in our society for any illness.

    No sources to site.

Leave a Reply