My sister took me aside the other
day and told me that I should remove the box of condoms from my medicine cabinet... because... "everybody knows that all houseguests open the medicine cabinet and peek right in!"
I didn't know that.
Armed with this info, I went on a junket of searching medicine cabinets of friends. In the first three, I found:
- Paxil (anxiety)
- Lithium (manic depression)
- Vicodin (pain killer)
After that, I quit. More people take medication daily than ever before. In fact, right now in Canada, pharmaceuticals cost more than any other item in health
care* (Dr salaries, hospitals included).
Behavioral pharmaceuticals are not used to cure physical problems, instead they treat mental illnesses. The industry was compelled to explore this area since people were getting healthier lifestyles and no longer needed as many heart medications etc. Physical illness was a shrinking industry where mental illness was a growth industry.
The industry brought several products to sell, and marketed them successfully. The result? An apparent epidemic of mental illness. Doctors claim that many mental illnesses are hereditary. How can they believe it when these illnesses are growing at a much faster rate than that of a population which is barely replacing itself? More and more people seem to think that taking a pill can solve any discomfort that intrudes on them. What happened to wrestling with your conscience? What happened to the soul? Pop another pill.
The situation brings to mind an idea proposed in Don DeLillo's White Noise when the main character is confronted with the idea of taking pills to cure emotional pain:
"What happens to good and evil in this system? Passion, envy and hate? Do they become a tangle of neurons? Are you telling me that a whole tradition of human failings is now at an end, that cowardice, sadism, molestation are meaningless terms? Are we being asked to regard these things nostalgically? What about murderous rage? A murderer used to have a certain fearsome size to him. His crime was large. What happens when you reduce it to cells and molecules?"
Of course, I believe that mental illness is real. I do not think drug companies and psychologists are part of a conspiracy. However, I think that people are overfilling their medicine cabinets with pills that they don’t need.
Will depression rates take a steep downturn in the next few years? I hope. Will the downturn occur at around the exact time that Eli Lily loses its patent on Prozac? I am sure.