As young whippa snappers forging a path through the treacherous realm of high school, we all encountered that one person, be it a guy or girl, who was inherently weird. Not necessarily bat-shit crazy “having a tea party with my cats” kind of loony, but reclusive un-involved separatists without any discernable back-story, who had the potential to be both a serial killer or an eccentric sculptor. Now while the majority of these social outcasts normally just grow to be dungaree wearing hipsters, there are a few that take this lack of cohesion with their peers into a lifetime of gloom, doom and self-worthlessness. I was aghast to hear recently that one of these teen pariahs from my high school had taken their own life. Was it being picked last for rounders, or snivelling adolescents laughing at her boyish chin-beard that tipped this poor girl over the ledge? Was I an accomplice in creating a basis for this woman’s depression? So I delved into literature in an attempt to cleanse my guilt-ridden conscious, and what I found was that being a garish female library monitor with discernable cheek stubble was not an automatic qualification into despair. 1st team rugby flyhalves and double D blonde cheerleaders alike were all in equally dangerous territory of falling into a well of mental sorrow.
An American survey, conducted among 20 000 college students in 2009, revealed that 43% of college students would be classified as depressed. Yip, that land of milk and honey with a stripper in every pot and a chicken on every pole is breeding a generation of morbid youngsters with a bleak appreciation of the outside world. These aren’t dyslexic drop outs that are condemned to asking if you’d like to supersize your meal for the rest of their lives, these are studious future leaders who are realistically engaging in beer soaked coitus and are in arguably the most enjoyable phase of their lives. So why are we so unhappy? Professor Steve Pinker, who heads up the psychology department at Harvard University, says we can hold circumstance largely accountable. He claims that the uncertainty of the future, the recession and a general loss of faith in the government to deal with pertinent issues leaves an empty void in today’s youth. And with Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and something called Snoop Lion being the pinnacles of aspiration, the outlook is indeed bleak.
But what are we doing to combat this? In this day and age nothing is mightier than the prescription pad. In 2010 there were over 520 million prescriptions for anti-depressants filled out in the USA alone. Ask the average child who Alexander Bell or Marie Curie were and they’ll ask if they were the bad guys in the new Call of Duty, but chat to them about Prozac or Zoloft and you’ll find that these are the true heroes of the modern age. We are no longer treating the cause, but casting some warm and fuzzy Band-Aid over an emotional booboo and letting the calming sensation of being emotionally ambivalent help us sleep at night. This staggering figure has increased nearly 250% in a decade and the pharmaceutical companies are smiling all the way to the bank. Pressure is placed on doctors to issue high intensity drugs to anyone that goes through any kind of hardship and the reason for their turmoil is never truly dealt with.
You can obtain a prescription within a 15 minute session. “Oh so you aren’t having a good time? Take 23 Paxil a day and put a smile on that brow.” Let’s not worry about the Hiroshima of nervous breakdowns if you suddenly stop; as your chemical balance and unresolved issues now become violently skewered. This, as it turns out, was the cause of my old peer finally calling it a day. Anyone can be depressed. I had a good job, a smoking hot girlfriend, a six pack that could stop a train, and even I had a niggling based on past occurrences. I muscled through and I can comfortably sit here without any drug induced happiness or dependency. The good old days of prescribing ecstasy to patients are gone, and while I think that in many cases anti-depressants are necessary and don’t wish sorrow on anyone, I think the ease at which these are now handed out needs to be seriously reviewed. Plus if Zoloft existed during Freud’s tenure, then who would we have to tell us our unresolved romantic feelings for our mothers was the root cause of all unhappiness?
*Follow @Stroobz as he triple drops a Valium and tries to fly a micro-light, and artificially inseminates a cat.