I was whining as usual today about our troubled, troubled world to my friend Carmen and how if only I was Dictator, all dissenters would be silenced and everywhere there’d be naught but rivers of milk and honey.
Me: Whenever kids whine about depression, i want them to stop. ugh. zoloft culture. need to man up. UGH.
Carmen: Whenever a crippled person whines about not being able to walk I want to slap him and tell him to get over it.
On that note, my stance on depression may very well be ridiculous so take me half-seriously. Please don’t be offended by what follows below.
With that qualification in mind, I don’t think that depression [especially teenage depression] ought to be treated with medication [a strong social support network is optimal but I guess that isn't often possible] and believe that much of psychiatry, especially medicalization of childhood conditions, is a money-making racket that preys on silly parents [e.g. ODD appears to be either "I spoiled my kids rotten and now I don't know what to do, fiddlesticks!" or "I have a brain tumor when it comes to understanding human nature. Let's bust out the drugs and therapy, that'll fix 5-year-old Tommy's temper tantrums."] The kids who getting pill’d today would have been known as ‘problem children’ once upon another time, before this all got overmedicalized. Just spank your children if they are hyper [ADHD] or defiant [ODD]. All hand-holding/”sensitive to a child’s needs” culture creates is entitlement and spoiled kids. Spare the rod and spoil the child. As the Chinese proverb goes, da shi qing, ma shi ai. [= hitting is affection, scolding/nagging is love]. Children aren’t spun out of sugar and glass; they have no moral compasses. This is what we fondly refer to as “mischievous”. If an adult acted that way, the descriptor would be jerkface. Children have some license however because they are still ‘unsivilized’. Still, no great need to worry so about their fragile psyches.
I am unconvinced that either of these two [ODD and ADHD] are not simply part of the human condition. Also, Stendhal syndrome?! ADHD sounds like “I hate school and sitting still” or “I’m disruptive”. Sure, some children are just too hyper to function in the school system, which requires sitting for hours at a time. Either deal with the problem kid and force him to ‘behave’ in a school context [punish him...but what does timeout or 'talking to him' do, seriously, if you can't inspire fear properly?], or home-school him. Is Ritalin really the way to go? Giving unwitting children something similar in structure to amphetamine seems cruel if nothing else.
In addition, many parents exploit ‘conditions’ like ODD/ADHD to get their children ahead; extra time on standardized testing, tax benefits for parents of ‘special/handicapped’ kids. If one psychiatrist doesn’t diagnose the child with the condition, another may. It’s fairly easy to induce an ADHD state in a child – give them tons of sugar. Also, you can just teach your kid to act a certain way in the office. That is, tell them to be disruptive. If you think this doesn’t happen, keep in mind that some people have no scruples. Most of the information the psychiatrist receives is from 1) the parents, who are talking about their child’s behavior or 2) the child’s behavior in the office.
I suppose depression is a different can of worms, though many who like to sit on pity pots will offhandedly say, “Yeah, I was depressed last year. It was so bad, man.” The vast majority of my friends has reported ‘depression’ at one time or another; none of them were ever on Zoloft. The thing everybody has got is cyberchondria. Hell, even I self-diagnosed with SAD. Self-fulfilling prophecy when you whine. Cease whining, or get deported to Haiti, where 80% of the population is under the poverty line. If kids at Yale [for example] hate their lives, they need to get some perspective. There is never any excuse to hate the following: your life, either of your parents, yourself. Cease!
I always hear “depression only ‘really counts’ if it happens without a reason” [i.e. no divorce, no death in the family, nothing wrong with your life, etc. The logic goes that if a traumatic event happens, a subsequent bad mood is 'normal' and doesn't have to be treated medically.]. How can the psychologist know for certain that his client is depressed ‘for no reason’? Self-reporting, which is ever unreliable. Any wuss is going to self-report as depressed for no reason, life without purpose, doesn’t enjoy activities he once did. How does one know that adolescent depression isn’t just growing pains or Angst? Apparently the subjective interpretation of the patient and his psychiatrist, who has a vested interest in finding problems. It’s his job!
I worry about the habit-forming nature of many anti-depressants. Certain sources on the Internetz claim that Zoloft is in fact not habit-forming. However, “in discontinuing psychiatric medications, a taper dose is a rule.” Hm, I wonder why! Due to withdrawal symptoms, and whyever would those occur? In addition, anything that makes you feel better or induces a state of pleasure [or at least 'fixes' your bad state] will build a dependence, even if it’s not a very strong ‘chemical dependence’ like the ‘observable’ kind the smoker’s brain creates for nicotine. Nobody claims that sugar is a drug, but the taste buds can be acclimatized very quickly to a certain amount of sweetness and thereafter during your meal, food that is just as sweet won’t taste as good as the first bite. We even build ‘tolerance’ for a certain workout regimen, which is why weight loss plateaus and why running intervals or switching up the type of exercise is more effective than jogging 3 miles a day, every day. This is the whole, “the body adapts/builds dependency to almost everything” thing. e.g. Alcohol tolerance, ‘tolerance’ for a ‘good’ lifestyle that makes a worse lifestyle now seem unthinkable [=being spoiled], caffeine tolerance, sugar tolerance, leisure tolerance [Do you ever hear people who watch 2-3 hours of TV a day say, "But I never have any time to do anything I want to. I just can't imagine doing X. That takes an hour and I simply don't have time" ?] The pharm companies/psychiatrists can tell me that anti-depressants have ‘zero risk of addiction’, but that doesn’t mean I have to believe them! Even if it’s not a strict chemical dependence, there could be a psychological dependence. i.e. One begins to think they need the drug, just out of habit. If it’s hard for somebody to cut out the one cup of coffee they “need” to stay awake in lecture every day, how difficult will cutting out a controlled substance like Zoloft be?
In short: Anti-depressants are over-prescribed, especially for adolescents, most of whom go through good ol’ growing pains, insecurity, conflict with parents, bullying, self-image problems etc. and should just learn to deal instead of being coddled and given pills. Conflict and pain build character more than drugs do. Also, ODD/ADHD seem dubious at best to me, but ODD especially.
For additional reading:
Christina Hoff Sommers’ One Nation Under Therapy: How the Help Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance.