Are We Becoming a Nation of Depressives? by Many Estimates Depression Has Become the Scourge of Westerners. Already the Fourth Leading Cause of Disability in the Workforce, It Is Projected to Reach Number Two by the Year 2020 (after Respiratory Infections)

By Turnquist, Kevin | The Humanist, September-October 2002 | Go to article overview

Are We Becoming a Nation of Depressives? by Many Estimates Depression Has Become the Scourge of Westerners. Already the Fourth Leading Cause of Disability in the Workforce, It Is Projected to Reach Number Two by the Year 2020 (after Respiratory Infections)


Turnquist, Kevin, The Humanist


Psychiatrists have taken the position that the apparent increase in the incidence of depression is just a mirage--that this much depression has always been present in the population; it is simply better diagnosis and the decreased stigma associated with our treatments that are responsible for the escalating numbers of reported depressed people. Some of us remain unconvinced.

Research indicates that in any given year over seventeen million Americans experience major depression. In fact, fifteen percent of the population is diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime. The treatment of depression has become an enormous industry in the United States. Sales of antidepressant medications have tripled in just a decade and now total over $13 billion annually. In many parts of the country, people wait for several months or longer for a fifteen-minute appointment with their psychiatrist so that they can continue to receive their antidepressant pills. Family practitioners are dispensing even more of these medications than psychiatrists. Yet the consistent message to the treaters of depression is that only a small portion of the people who are suffering from depression are receiving treatment for it. Countless others are suffering, and it is our responsibility to bring treatment--almost always in the form of expensive new drugs--to the untreated.

This view of depression raises questions in the minds of many observers. Why should this disorder be on the rise despite the treatment efforts of several generations of psychiatrists and the combined resources of multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical companies? Is there something new about depression itself, or does this represent a problem inherent in modern Western society? How did humans manage to get through life before Prozac? Fortunately, some preliminary answers are beginning to emerge. Startling discoveries from basic research in neuroscience have forced us to begin thinking about the problem of depression in new and different ways. Before looking at these new findings, however, a review of how we got to our present state may be worthwhile.

Part of the helping profession's difficulty in dealing with depression is that we have never really understood what would cause one person to be depressed while another in similar circumstances remains symptom-free. A number of theories have had their day: anger turned inward results in depression; depression is a reaction to real or imagined loss; depression represents the gap between our real view of ourselves and our unconscious, idealized version of how our lives should be; depression is a genetically inherited disorder; depression is a result of "chemical imbalances" in neurotransmitter systems that can only be understood by trained psychiatrists. Since each of these models undoubtedly have some truth in them, any new model of depression will have to explain why each of these diverse viewpoints has led to the relief of suffering in at least some individuals.

Clouding our view of depression even further is the fact that bona fide depression can arise from a variety of "physical" causes. Pancreatic cancer, heart attacks, strokes, thyroid problems, side effects of a host of nonpsychiatric medications, even changes in exercise routines have all been clearly linked to the onset of depression in some individuals.

Modern psychiatry has dealt with this uncertainty about the root cause of depression largely by ignoring it. The sequence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals released by the American Psychiatric Association have been, by design, heavy on description and devoid of explanatory theories. The most recent manual requires that at least five of nine key symptoms--depressed mood, decreased interest in activities, significant weight loss or gain, disturbed sleep patterns, physical agitation or lethargy, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, decreased ability to concentrate or make decisions, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide--be present for at least two weeks for major depression to be diagnosed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Are We Becoming a Nation of Depressives? by Many Estimates Depression Has Become the Scourge of Westerners. Already the Fourth Leading Cause of Disability in the Workforce, It Is Projected to Reach Number Two by the Year 2020 (after Respiratory Infections)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.