W5 Activity: Depression

American society has a unique relationship with medications. Unlike anywhere else in the world, we advertise designer drugs with large price tags that pride themselves on curing or relieving any and all ailments. You can even ask by name for the medication of your choice from your physician. This relationship value alone differs greatly from the rest of the world because in most scenarios, the doctor’s advice and prescription choice would be the final word. In regards to medicalization and biomedicalization, America has moved much further into the latter role. Initially, western medicine attempted to treat illness through a direct and fully involved approach. Western medicines superiority allowed patients to have confidence in a physicians choices when it came to their health. As a society, we have become so dependent on medications that we believe we cannot live without them. With this, our tolerance of mild symptoms decreases and our immune systems have been weakened and can no longer fight off infections. What is also scary is when these medications actually harm us instead of helping us. As shown in the “Pill Poppers” video, an issue arose when the drug used by millions of people who have arthritis increased the risks of heart attacks and strokes. So basically you’re treating one problem and adding another.

With the advent of mass media, advertising and the expansion of privatized medical research companies, biomedicalizaiton has taken foothold in America. Much like the food choices offered at a supermarket, a patient has the option of being influenced greatly by a number of different mediums when it comes to the treatment of a symptom. They play a direct role in how their healthcare is administered; even though it sometimes doesn’t directly lead to relief or a cure.

The above is an advertisement for a depression medication called Pristiq. In the ad, depression is described through the use of a wind up toy and the seemingly anecdotal sales pitch by a depressed woman who is unable to get herself feeling normal. The clear message here is that those with depression are experiencing abnormal feelings that can be rectified with the use of a simple pill. It is the patients duty to seek out their physician and explain that they wish to treat themselves with this particular medication in order to feel normal again. However, very little actual medical information is provided. In fact the ad even states that it thinks that the medicine works by establishing a better balance of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. It literally exposes that the creators of the medication do not know precisely why it is effective in treating depression but states that you should try it because depression is leaving you abnormal.

One thought on “W5 Activity: Depression

  1. I like how you used a video representation as your advertisement for depression. I find videos and commercials to be the most attention-grabbing and engaging, especially for younger people. From a cultural perspective, I would say that America is fairly accepting of this illness. In some countries, being diagnosed with depression is not an option and would make a person be embarrassed. Although we are a bit more accepting as a country, many people use medications as a their first option is “fixing” their depression. There isn’t much support politically. Mental illness is not seen as the many other illnesses and therefore there is not much funding or economic help. The lack of government support further drives away people from seeking medical attention for their depression. Historically, depression has not been seen as a true medical condition. There have been an increasing number of people that have been diagnosed with depression as there has been increasing awareness of this illness. As awareness increases, so will the amount of biomedical intervention. Diagnosing someone with depression is subjective and therefore people tend to be afraid to be voicing their true symptoms. But, with biomedical intervention, more people can be helped and receive appropriate treatment for their illness.

    Conrad, Peter, and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Social Problems Vol. 47, no. No. 4 (2000): 559-82. doi:April 17, 2010.

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