GP's tend to deal with a lot of depression and anxiety (and I'm not talking about our own... who tends to us? Another question. Another post).
Is there more depression and anxiety in the 21st century or are we just getting better at recognising it?
The middle of the 20th century saw the rise in early recognition and treatment of psychiatric illnesses. In fact, most of the stigmas surrounding psychiatry, psychologists and psychological drugs were put to bed in the late 70's and early 80's. The rise of Freud and Mommy-consoling. They were heady days.
Back to the present – something is definitely up. It feels like at least 1 out of every 3 patients I see is on some type of an antidepressant or mood stabiliser. I used to have a professor who joked that lithium should be put into the water. Quick, painless alleviation of most of our problems. Imagine a world where the traffic driver is too stoned to cut you off. Wait. They are stoned. And still cut us off? Well, I did say “most” of our problems.
I see at least 3 people per week who arrive complaining of stress, an inability to cope – and of the opinion that medication (not psychological treatment) will help.
Has life really become more stressful in the 21st century? Dual incomes? Pressure for women to succeed and men to become more nuturing? Or have our parents not prepared us properly for the big bad world. Are we, as modern human beings, getting less and less capable of dealing with situations and just getting in with life?
Why do more and more people feel that they have to take medication (and/or drugs) to deal with the everyday stuff? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that everytime you pick up a YOU magazine, you're confronted with pretty looking people advising you seek out your doctor for the latest in smiley medication.
A lot of questions – and not too many answers I'm afraid.
Perhaps we should spend more time teaching stress management in schools? Or organisational skills... teach our children to be more efficient, manage money better, be more emotionally available?
Then maybe our next generation won't have to be permanently medicated to be happy and functional...