Why are we such a Prozac Nation?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Health and Fitness  |  House: Booksie Classic
No man is an island, yet we all find it hard to admit a serious mental problem that plagues a high percentage of us.

Submitted: September 15, 2009

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Submitted: September 15, 2009



The once frowned upon disorder is now a common condition, affecting one in four of us over the course of a year. I, being one of them.

Depression can be scientifically defined in a variant of ways, such as a deficiency in the mood influencing neurotransmitter, serotonin, genetics, seasons, stress, malnutrition and even mould has been linked as a cause. This alteration in mood leads to changes in social and physical function, afflicting the patients sleep, appetite and concentration. Depression is unique to the individual, with a wide array of different symptoms, which require different treatments.

What is so surprising about this illness is that it is often highly stigmatised, as any mental health condition is, so much that sufferers are made worse by the fear of admitting the truth to their fellow workers, family and friends. This also can cause more turbulent times, by the patient suffering alone, instead of releasing the emotions and getting the necessary support required to recover.

In my own experience, the National Health Service who were more than brilliant when I was taken to A & E over a suicide attempt, have since slipped in my expectations. I have waiting since May for some help, but so far none has been granted. I don't understand those who were so supportive at the beginning have become increasingly cold. For a while, I thought I took out the helplessness I felt on my GP, but now that I begin to express my experience to more people, I learn that it is a growing consensus that a good doctor is hard to find. After several battles with my local surgery, including the phone calls from my mother who has fully supported me in the recent months, the concluding response is “there is nothing I can do”. Admittedly, I may be the only true person who can save myself, but there are certain things that the NHS should and can offer. After four and a half months I am not in any therapy, I have been given advice only through the occupational Health at my work; who have also joined the battle against the surgery. I have to ask, is this really good enough? Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under thirty five, and if they have received the treatment that I have, then there is no surprise that they were successful in taking their life. I am fortunately blessed with a caring family and boyfriend, who I literally owe my life to.

So why is this condition growing in incidence? Or is it just more people are admitting there is a problem? The attitude of previous generations were often to “pull yourself together”, and now we realise this isn't helpful. Research demonstrates a proportional increase in depression in relation to the declining belief in religion. Is this a punishment? Or can it be blamed on the growing stresses of life? There is a constant warning of life threatening diseases and events, the most recent being swine flu. This is advertised everywhere, which is arguably informing us to all of the risks, or is it just injecting fear into a enervated society. Wars which were once fought on the front line are now in our back garden, terrorist activity is at the fore front of our minds when we board a plane or see a bag unattended in a bus station. As technology grows in development, the larger the consequences for mistakes, seen by the constant media attention to any medical mishap. Although the miracles and achievements that are witnessed everyday in hospitals, are not as publicised as the quandaries. Are we really a nation that is infatuated by the failures of others in order to make ourselves feel better?

Media itself can be blamed for the idolisation of celebrities who are branded as flawless, with the airbrushed photo campaigns that causes undue stress on striving to achieve the perfect body and face. Men's magazines can often be generalised to women, sports, gadgets and cars. A large stereotype, that I concede. Are men so fearful of being rejected by women that they too feel they have to be a certain way, drive a certain car, have a defined muscle tone, all in the objective to get laid? Can sex be a large driving force for low self esteem? Females starve themselves to be deemed desirable, as well as simultaneously dreaming of double D's to be the sex symbol that they fantasise being, and once the realisation strikes them that it is improbable they will achieve these goals, does there sense of failure leave them with depression?

Does it come down to generations aging with a lack of parental care? Approximately half of all marriages end in divorce in this country, with 53% of cases involving one child under 16. The stress of divorce can cause depression and stress in the adults and more importantly in the affected children. If these issues were not addressed at the time, there is a large risk factor of these children developing a deep seeded condition. If the parents are depressed due to the separation as well as the stress of raising children as a single parent and now with a decreased income, this can allow children to pick up bad habits in dealing with stress, which they can take with them in to adolescence. Additionally, with the looming attention of the recession and increased unemployment, the stressful situation is at no means near an end.

So what is the cure? Do we all buy a cat, and allow the natural soothing of their purring to do their job and diminish our pain? I find that an unlikely solution. Of course, exercise is publicly acknowledged as a way of releasing serotonin, and uplifting the mood. However, unfortunately, one of the side effects of depression is that you have low energy, so persevering may be key to gain energy and gain strength to work out, and therefore feel better. A good doctor is also crucial, a way of being referred on to the relevant treatment. Even the suggestion of antidepressants, can be used as an aid, but not as a cure. There is a spectrum of therapies, Cognitive Behavioural therapy is a general term for a range of the therapies. It aims to use goals in order to elevate mood and dysfunction behaviour. Counselling is also available through referral via your GP, but many offer only short term courses, ranging from 6 – 10 weeks. If the problem is complex, then a longer therapy session is needed, and talking to your doctor about the options available is advisable. If you, like I, find your doctor unhelpful, then request a second opinion and get loved one to help press the seriousness of the issue. Keep fighting for your chance for help, because it is your right to be to assess this treatment.

My advice to you if you are suffering with depression, would be to talk to your work, be honest, because more people than you think would have gone through depression, and can offer moral and occupational support. Talk to your family or friends, have a confidant to allow you to vent your emotions. Take each opportunity out there, buy books and surf the web searching for advice on how to change your outlook and deal with stress. I know there are a lot of crazy self help books but try and use your judgement over what works for you. It is imperative to look after yourself, eat well and healthily so you have the energy to fight it and get up and on with your day. If you are concerned about work, talk to your boss about what could help, explore reducing your hours or even a career break to allow you to be healthy. You no doubt may feel a sense of failure or even guilt for not being able to work at full capacity, but don't. This time for you to heal in order for you to get your life on track. In, the mean time, maybe we should all just pull together and help each other out through the bad times, this maybe a tad unrealistic, but with a domino affect we could just start being nicer to one another.

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