In a recently released study that was conducted between 1996 and 2005, it was found that antidepressant drug use among Americans has nearly doubled. The study’s author, Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City said, “Over 10 percent of people over the age of 6 were receiving anti-depression medication.”
Life presents us with all kinds of opportunities to become sad or depressed about things. There’s the stress of work, home, marriage, children, family, bills, sickness, and daily interactions with people. Depression is not a state of mind that people generally make a decision to enter. Adult depression is often a natural result of having profound challenges which are accompanied by a lack of hope in one’s ability to cope or overcome. As a result, self-pity and a desire to escape the burdens foster a detached or depressed state of mind.
There are many theories as to why there has been an explosion in antidepressant use. Many feel that the American lifestyle is chiefly to blame. No longer do most people toil from sunup to sunset with little time to be depressed. Today, despite having more free time than Americans have had at almost any time in our history, we long to escape the responsibilities that we do have. For many, the depressed state of mind is an escape from the realities of life. Man’s constant cry for more time off is often the precursor to depression because the mind generally does not do well when left to itself for long periods of time. It’s why solitary confinement is regarded as a harsh punishment. Anyway, while we are always clamoring for more vacations, breaks, and early retirement, the mind actually needs constant fruitful purpose. Life insurance companies know that a significant number of people die within five years of retirement. It seems that while we cry to stop working, the mind cries to stay engaged and needed.
Perhaps the most staggering aspect of the study may have caught your attention in the first paragraph. There’s a significant population of depressed six-year-olds to be included in the study. I would suggest that instead of seeking to make everything better and easier for our children than what we had it, understand that a certain amount of struggle is good and necessary for the human spirit and mind. While our kids are spending endless hours in front of the computer, TV, and video games, their minds are being sabotaged. Being responsible and accountable in real life are necessary for proper maturity. It’s time for people of all ages to engage life’s challenges rather than always seek refuge and escape from them.
Apart from the pathologically depressed, it’s a shame to live in the most blessed and prosperous nation yet have the numbers of people on antidepressants that we do. It’s good to remember that it’s hard to be depressed when are a thankful, giving, hopeful, and faithful people.