In the modern world, if one went through Eleanor Rigby’s possessions after Father McKenzie had walked from the grave, you would have probably found Cipralex or some other varient of happy pill. Lonliness is just one of the underlying causes of depression and anxiety.
According to Mind an increasing number of people in this country suffer from these types of mental health issues at some time or another. We are living in a culture where the issues are huge and the NHS is spending out millions of pounds each year on treating this illness, but where the issue on one level seems to be remaining taboo.
If I think around my friends I can think of plenty of people, particularly in the 20 – 45 age group. What scares me is I have come to realise that I can only think of about 5 who have not, at some point in their lives, either been prescribed anti-depressants or found themselves in counselling. I know this because whilst the subject remains taboo and society does not discuss what might behind these issues it is now quite common for people to mention their happy pills or counselling experiences within conversation, as throw away comments. It almost feels like going on happy pills is a normative experience these days.
Now I know depression is an illness and just like any other illness it needs treatment, but I am wondering how much as a society we spend on happy pills when training people in more positive ways of thinking might be helpful. Note here I want to make a distinction between those who suffer from ongoing and serious depression for whom medication is important and those who have mild reactive depression.
This questioning has come about because after some years being off the happy pills I have recently found myself back on them. I have found the experience has left me questioning alot about the attitude medical professionals aswell as society as a whole have.
When I went into the doctor expressing a bit of concern I might be slipping into depression again I was given something like a Facebook quiz on the computer to check whether I was depressed. The computer said at that point I seemed mildly depressed and so the doctor gave me some happy pills as a precautionary measure. The doseage I am on is so small that the doctor has admitted that they may or maynot be making any difference to me, but better too err on the side of caution.
Now beyond the cost of this approach to the NHS it also has other implications. I know from experience how admitting you have suffered from depression leads to occupational health appointments if you are applying for jobs. This was one of the key reasons I was very resistent to the idea of going back on the happy pills. There is somewhat of a difference to saying you have been quite healthy for 7 years to saying that you are currently taking the tablets.
So if the NHS is under loads of pressure, and if the cost to the welfare budget is increased by this growth in the prescription of AD’s shouldn’t more work be going into looking for the underlying reasons for alot of mild depression and stress. Personally going back on the happy pills has shocked me into looking again at my life and seeing that in many ways I was looking through the wrong set of lenses about the move.
Taking a step back and looking more objectively I have seen that I am not Eleanor Rigby….I just spent too much time comparing myself to others. Oh and before anybody wonders no I didn’t get that insight through counselling. Rather I picked up one of the Bridget Jones type self-help books I have on my shelves. Whilst I am not saying that it has the answers for everything I have to say “Reinvent Yourself” by Fiona Harrold has helped me to think about how I look at life. Going through this book and the EDEV course I am doing with church have helped me to think about how I view things and see my life / future. So in some ways I am beginning to wonder if we should just be encouraging people to work through things and try different ways of looking at their lives and behaviours before rushing to give the happy pills.