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February 2010
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 03:29 am
Utsu: drugging the ordinary sadness of Japanese and children


Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)

well, I don't have a medical degree to discuss these things in depth, altho my mum is a neurologist and I recall several discussions with her regarding depression. her point is that it's a symptom, not an illness. she told me it's completely normal to prescribe antidepressants (along with other drugs) to a person who is, say, terminally ill with cancer and in fact lives in constant physical pain, but a depression due to, say, “stress at work” should not be treated with drugs. she had similar discussions with her Western colleagues, their views differ on the matter. so is the way of things

mental illness is a very murky territory with lots of ambiguous and inconclusive diagnoses, countless drug and drug-less treatments which work or half-work or don't work at all et cetera et cetera, and it's an entirely different matter altogether

what I read in Momus' post is another example of Western-style brainwashing to create a new niche drug market — I'm quite glad that in my country this attempt, due to various reasons, some completely unrelated, failed — which is great

ReplyThread Parent
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)

Yes, the proper, ideal response to depression brought on by stress at work would be to somehow resolve that stressful situation (i.e. quit, talk to the boss about it, take a vacation, etc). But what if it's not possible to resolve the situation sans drugs without broadening the depression? What if, for example, the person were to quit his/her job, but then the person finds him/herself in the position of having no money, and not being able to readily secure gainful employment. This situation would surely increase stress on the person in question, and stand a good chance of making the depression worse, not better. If drugs could moderate this person's mood, wouldn't that be the best available (and by "available," i mean viable and realistic) solution?

ReplyThread Parent
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)

now we're talking of a differences between Eastern/Western mindset, not really drugs. I recall two relatively big social catastrophes in my short life — the end of USSR in 1991 and the financial crisis of 1998. I recall millions of people losing jobs et cetera et cetera, but I don't recall anyone starting on antidepressants — we had and we still have cheap Valeriana officinalis that is know since ancient Greece (and other mild herbal drugs). while I recall that in the very same 1991 in USA there already was a relatively big market for synthetic antidepressants. and now — oh, let's open Wikipedia on Fluoxetine: “Over 22.2 million prescriptions for generic formulations of fluoxetine were filled in the United States in 2007, making it the third most prescribed antidepressant” — that's not even an epidemic, it's a pandemia, completely unhealthy

ReplyThread Parent
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)

And Russia's suicide rate is nearly triple America's and, surprisingly, beats out even Japan and South Korea, at least by the 2005 figures on Wikipedia.

Relying so heavily, as a culture, on pharmaceuticals may not be the ideal of good health, but nor is the cultural ideal of "get your shit together" an ideal of good health. I think we're looking at two extremes here: one that is so obsessive about mental health that it creates unnecessary categories just so it can diagnose people and get them on drugs, and another that is just unduly and cruelly dismissive of mental anguish.

ReplyThread Parent
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)

well, let's peruse WHO data:
[country list]

I say, this data doesn't really speak. Russia with its consistently failing health services shows triple the American rate, but here comes our small northern neighbor Finland with less suicide cases than us but twice the American rate — and Finland is a country with excellent healtcare system (I had several chances to visit their medical facilities while accompanying my mum) and overall quality of life that is much higher than in Ru.Fed (again, I've been there numerous times to be able to compare). Yes, Russia has other problems, like hundreds of thousands of people dying each year not of even alcoholism but of poisoning by substances containing traces of technical spirits (very ugly indeed), but our suicide data doesn't really relate to US of A or to Suomi Fi — and in Suomi Fi it's completely normal to cure depression with medication, and yet they have twice the American suicide cases. If we compare suicidal age groups in Finland and Denmark, we'll see amusingly different data (I'll leave that to you). Um?

ReplyThread Parent
Wed, Jan. 14th, 2009 12:34 am (UTC)

You're missing the point. I'm merely trying to point out that Russia's response to mental anguish, as you describe it, probably shouldn't be taken as any sort of ideal of treatment. In many ways, I'd rather that my country be obsessive about mental illness, and in that way at the very least be open to talking about the anguish that the language of "mental illness" (whether real or not) attempts to describe, than live in a place where people just tell you to buck up and get over it. At the end of the day, nobody is forcing pills down an American adult's throat. The reason why I get so bent out of shape with ADHD diagnoses in children is only because they don't have the same choice to stay off medication, especially if their parents are in on it.

ReplyThread Parent