- Mental Health
What Led to the Rise of Antidepressants?
Invisible Values and Blurred Vision
From the Baby Boom to Generation Y
In earlier days our grandparents posed for family photos, looking ever so proper. "But nowadays anything goes." (Cole Porter)
So much of old-time religion is based on the Bible; and so much of the Bible talks about sexual immorality.
A few decades ago there weren't so many divorce issues making life so complicated; times were simpler; a divorce was something rarely seen.
The most awful event in known human history was the Second World War. After that, there was a relaxation of people in general. Missing was any absolute proof that adhering to the old strict standards of the past was worth doing.
What held things in place so tightly in the past were the religious standards. But people questioned everything after the war and couldn't find proof of the events described in the Bible, or of the expectations they were given to believe.
Society had a taste of reality in the war. Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East brought more and more devastating realities into our lives. People tended to become reality-oriented, disrespecting fantasies and intangible philosophy. Money was real; so were drugs and alcohol. But God and heaven, family cohesiveness, loyalty to a company, and close bonding and friendship were just invisible concepts based on opinions and values.
One major institution, marriage, started to deteriorate, and with it, the families in which people had grown up. With the realization that we all originated from out of this family structure, people still rejected the old ways because they had led to such horrors of war and corruption. But we couldn't find new levels of security in anything else in order to replace the strict moral institutions that society had before.
The solution to the problem of insecurity naturally tended toward tangible realities, but the undeniable truths, such as the mundane things of everyday life, were either too shallow or temporary.
In the realm of reality, at least one thing did work well, however: indulgence in comfort. This seemed powerful enough alone to replace all of the old values.
The concept of what constituted the evil word "masochism" even seemed to change. That derogatory term used to imply self-inflicted torture, but with changing times it came to mean something much milder and more commonplace. Just the denial of comfort would suffice to make someone a masochist.
Everything became centered around comfort. It was something real. Yet, being invisible, it retained the qualities of the mystical bonds that held society together in the old days.
With so many horrible things happening in the news every day, people needed a mental break from trying to maintain self-respect in the face of graphic depictions of inhuman violence and corruption in high places. Newspapers and Internet news were full of the old realities reminding people of what they knew of World War Two. The horrors of those times stemmed from the old bonds that prevailed in our ancestors' society, which was why we had a right to reject all that and try to rebuild our social structure.
A little escapism never was so bad as to be considered immoral. In the Great Depression, Hollywood movies thrived. Everyone went to the movie theater to escape the dire realities of the economy. But modernly, we have more than the cinema at our disposal. We, as a society, have relaxed and become looser and freer, which is good. It's excellent.
Taking pills seems to be the right stuff; intoxication isn't immoral in and of itself. But what follows can be behavior and values that are big changes from those of the past.
Some change was necessary because the resulting wars and injustices of the past had to change. But our evolution has been awkward. Divorce, promiscuity, cynicism and blatant displays of behavior previously considered taboo have become accepted characteristics of modern society.
There are big exceptions to these flaws and great advances never realized before. Many people consider our social ills immoral, but they may be just growing pains. One good thing is that most people now believe in living their own lives without criticizing. That still seems to be the wisest approach.
Wisdom has a way of enduring. The child-like qualities that give each of us enough innocence to find what is good inside ourselves and others also will endure. With that, optimism is not something to be ridiculed. It's part of the reality of today.
The problem with our society is that it's still evolving and growing. Society itself is a living thing made up of tiny human beings each trying to perfect one individual life while shaping the whole world in which we live into something stronger and better.
It is ironic that people looking at the way things were 100 years ago will scoff at the beliefs and practices while never realizing that some day, 100 years from now, others will be laughing at the present "truths" on which today's societies rely for security and peace of mind. The medical profession is an excellent example of rapid developments and discoveries. A person undergoing open heart surgery in 1952 stood only a 50% chance of survival, but today this is up to a 95% or greater chance not only of survival, but of the success of the operation.
Another example is travel. A century ago, there were no super highways or jet planes. The world has shrunk greatly. More examples can be listed but maybe the greatest is communication through the Internet, something unimaginable previously. People should be able to understand each other much more now. This could lead to a realistic plan to maintain peace among nations, although that day has not arrived.
The Significance of the "Antidepressant" Pill
There is an impressive list of the most popular antidepressants. The drug companies are selling them like crazy as if people can't be content without them. This is a new phenomenon that has come about through the magic of drugs. They are bringing instant happiness to millions.
Depression and anxiety, once thought normal phases of life, are now diseases of the mind to the psychiatrist who might alleviate these illnesses with a prescription for one of the many antidepressants. Sleep disorders or substance abuse symptoms can be relieved by instant happiness and restful sleep thanks to antidepressants.
But the risks of physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms are widely acknowledged. Some practitioners in the mental health field will treat depression, but not with drugs. Some treat it with simple exercise.
Amphetamines used to be used as antidepressants. The idea of most of them is to try to stimulate the patient so that he or she won't be so depressed. Hopefully people could be given energy through drugs. Antidepressants became prescription drugs, but at first patients still preferred tranquilizers.
Nicotine is acknowledged to be an antidepressant, but few would recommend smoking. So is caffeine, but everyone knows about coffee nerves. These things produce the desirable effect of increasing alertness, but they prevent drowsiness and therefore make it hard to fall asleep.
On the other hand, there are alternative ways to deal with depression, which might be called the old stand-by's or the traditional ways. Good nutrition through well prepared and well cooked meals is almost a thing of the past for many people living the hectic and ambitious lives that society has evolved into.
After a while most patients want to stop the antidepressants due to the many different physical problems that can result. Even suicides have been attributed to antidepressants. They cause many people to have trouble with their sex lives. People get lazy and have no motivation. Strange dreams and nightmares, gaining weight, having no desire to exercise, will come first, but then when the patient gives up taking the antidepressants the real trouble begins because withdrawal symptoms are awful.
When coming down off the pills patients can panic, have bouts of crying, and go all the way into thoughts about suicide. In fact experts recommend coming off antidepressants slowly, over several weeks or months. Some recommend a 10% per week reduction.
In the past decade there's been a tremendous increase in prescriptions for antidepressants, and diagnoses of depression. Many physicians feel antidepressants are often unnecessary and that talking therapy and counseling would be better in many cases. Even the drug companies have been sued, especially in cases when antidepressants were recommended for children.