Check out this statistic — Nearly 20 % of Americans have been prescribed anti-depressants this past year. Almost twice as many white people take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs than African Americans and Latinos; Asian Americans account for only 5 % of the total; I didn’t see the stats for Far Eastern and Middle Eastern adults, which is interesting to note as well.
Okay…the cost. Maybe this just comes down to affordability– pure income statistic/economic class numbers. But I don’t think that’s the whole picture.
In the late 70s, most of my pals in my university world went regularly to “therapy.” Thank you Woody Allen for this phenomenon…
It was just what smart, nervous people did. We ate our sprouts, our frozen yogurt, and went to our therapist, all in an average week. Even though millions of folks still trundle off for the weekly sessions, let’s face it, nowadays, a huge number of folks are skirting off to the pharmacy instead.
But the advances in psychopharmacology also do not give us the whole picture.
Before I write another word: I’m all for necessary drugs…”necessary” is the key sticking point here. But this post is not about how we define mental illness or the drug companies profit-driven models, or even the prevalence of a cultural malaise…I love all those subjects of course, so let’s do those another time…
I’m talking about the privilege to be depressed these days, the privilege to take time off “for yourself.” Why and how is this a cultural construct of sorts? Do white people get cultural “cred” for getting sick? There’s a pretty strong link between education and the diagnoses of depression and anxiety too. Dare we open Pandora’s box and look into that devilish expectation/disappointment ratio? Are we seeing the 21st Century version of “mommy’s little helper” from the white, suburban 1950s housewife days?