The dirty little secret of psychiatry and psychology in 2012 is that talking is out and writing is in. There’s not nearly as much lying on a sofa and sharing your deepest feelings with the doc as there used to be. These days, your shrink or analyst is busy writing prescriptions. Seriously, if you’ve got an emotional issue, we’ve got some sexy meds to make you feel better. Business is booming because Americans are more willing to take pills than think deeply and reflect.
Xanax, Cymbalta and Prozac are just three of the long and growing list of antidepressants available to this generation. The list goes on and on…and on! In many cases, your friends and neighbors are taking combinations of prescription meds in their battle against anxiety and depression. Nobody can explain how these prescriptions work or why a particular drug is effective with some clients but leads to thoughts of suicide in others. And ER physicians report that the number of Emergency Room incidents involving the abuse of antidepressants is up 30% in the last few years.
Last week I came across an article in a respected magazine which cites that half of all the people in the world being treated for depression live in the USA! Wow! Granted, a share of those people must surely have clinical depression- the real thing. But should we really have half of all the victims of depression in the whole world? I tend to distrust numbers like this, but let’s suppose the figure might be off 10% either way. It’s still a troubling statistic when less than 5% of the world population lives here. Why are so many Americans gulping antidepressants every morning?
I suspect that for many of us, the answer is disappointment, not depression. We are disappointed with life.
- We have all been taught that we are special and should feel good about ourselves, but quite often we find that others don’t seem to appreciate us, and the result is that we feel bad about ourselves. Self Esteem has failed us.
- We have insisted that marriage is mostly about sex, romance, and sharing some fun. But there are many days when we’re too tired or stressed out for sex, romance or fun. Now what? Now I realize that “marriage material” calls for more than a smoking hot body and a sense of humor.
- We are told endlessly that the secret to happiness is to find a job you enjoy doing, and do it every day. But my boss doesn’t care if I feel happy or not and there’s not another job available. Career has gone south.
- And don’t even start me talking about college. Sure it was fun while I was there, but now that I have my degree, I can’t find anybody except Chick Fil-A who wants to hire me. The University was a lie.
You could say we’re suffering from disillusionment. But that’s not a bad thing. When I am disillusioned, it means I can finally see through an illusion- a lie– that held me hostage for years. It was a seductive counterfeit, but it couldn’t deliver. So now I have a choice. I can either wallow in despair and try to self medicate using alcohol or something more medical sounding. Or I can kick that illusion to the ground and resolve, “Okay. Now I’ll find something that’s true.”
Good News! That’s is where true faith always begins- at the Dead End of Self Deception. Starting over is a good thing. In the Church, we call it Repentance. More next week. In the meantime, lift up the Cross!