06 August, 2009

Completely unrelated stories, I swear

Read over a year ago: "More than a quarter of Americans have left the faith of their childhood… [T]he group that had the greatest net gain was the unaffiliated."

Read today: the use of antidepressants in the U.S. almost doubled over ten years (10% of those over age 6).

The concern about who is using antidepressants is also rising, especially since most of those taking them seem not to be under the care of a psychiatrist. Interestingly, usage increased most amongst the wealthiest, most privileged ethnic group*, which can mean one of several things. (1) Minorities are (again) getting poor health care; that is, they lack access to antidepressants. (2) The wealthiest, most privileged ethnic group suffers at an especially high rate from clinical depression: double or even triple the rate of different minority groups. (3) As a leading cultural indicator, the wealthiest, most privileged ethnic group shows that we're all losing our minds.

I vote (3).

On the other hand, the proportion of people resorting to psychotherapy has been cut by a third, which strikes me as much, much better news if it means that our mental health is better. I reckon Tom Cruise is also jumping up and down in a chair somewhere, giddy with joy.

NOTE. I am well aware that genuine clinical depression is a debilitating, poorly-understood disease. I also think it's poorly named.

*I refuse to describe them by color.


Anonymous said...

Wealthiest I'll buy. Most privileged?

jack perry said...

Reading the beginning and/or middle of this older post might help, but my use of the word "privileged" was meant ironically.

Incidentally, that post will sound very, very familiar if you've read other things I've written recently.

Arsen Darnay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arsen Darnay said...

Some more comparisons, these taken from Social Trends & Indicators USA, a bit dated, but pattern is pattern.

Prozak was invented 1988. In 1989 7.4 million visits to doctors were motivated by depression, in 2000 10 million (up 35%). In the same period, per capita cigarette consumption declined nearly 28%. Depressing business, quitting nicotine...

jack perry said...


Thank you for another completely unrelated story!!! :-)