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.