The other question here is whether the increase is a result of a change in methodology regarding diagnosis or whether there is a true increase in the incidence of depression (Rubin, 2018). Interestingly, according to Psychology Today, an increase in the prevalence of depression is supported by other studies that show increases in indicators of depression and suicidality and that even if some of the increase has a relation to the methodology used, that it still seems that a growing number of people are struggling with depression (Rubin, 2018). Another interesting aspect to this is that according to Psychology Today, the investigators from the recent study found that other problems were common for people struggling with depression (Rubin, 2018). Specifically, some of the other problems that investigators identified were substance use disorders and anxiety disorders (Rubin, 2018). Additionally, some of the things mentioned by Psychology Today were that 58% of people with lifetime major depressive disorder had substance use disorder, which included alcohol and nicotine disorders as well as others and that 37% had an anxiety disorder (Rubin, 2018). Again, an interesting question here is that if depression really has been increasing in recent times, what are the reasons for this? I would argue that if depression really has become more common in the United States, that the reasons for this are quite complicated. Perhaps some of the reasons are that there are some serious problems with health insurance in the United States and that employees, for the most part, don’t seem to have good benefits that are available to people in many other developed countries, such as paid family leave, and a good amount of vacation time and sick time. Some additional reasons may be things like a culture that at least traditionally has been more about “live to work” as opposed to “work to live”, a culture that tends to be “sink or swim”, and a culture that is overly focused on money and materialism and often seems to put profits ahead of basic human values and the best interest of the patient, client, etc.. This needs to change.
Overall, I argue that some of the major contributors to the opioid epidemic are the profit over the interest of the patient mindset of some pharmaceutical corporations, doctors, and pharmacies. Additionally, I would argue that the mindset of the general population regarding the use of pills for most things also contributes to this situation. Finally, I would argue that it is entirely possible that depression has been increasing in the United States and that this has also contributed to the current opioid epidemic, with people perhaps trying to self-medicate and eventually just getting addicted. Some of the things that can be done to try to remedy the situation are stronger regulation of pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and pharmacies. In addition, I argue that teaching corporate social responsibility and ethical business practices in universities and companies could also help to change the profit over the best interest of the patient type mindset that some people and companies seem to have. I argue additionally, that a return to basic human values is very important as well. One thing that can be helpful here is learning basic principles from spirituality. This is not about some kind of religious/ritual approach. It is about basic human values such as kindness, compassion, and connection and a sense of belongingness with all of humanity and the whole world (Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living Foundation). I argue that this can make a big dent in the the whole “profit over the best interest of the client, patient, etc.” situation. Spirituality can also help people to shift their focus from a more outward obsessive type of pursuit of money and material possessions to try to find happiness, to something more meaningful and internal, because true happiness is inside of us, not outside of us (Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living Foundation). However, at the same time, it is important to note that this does not mean that people can’t have a career or make money, or have friendships or relationships etc.. The problem is when people view these things as some kind of ultimate source of happiness and condition their happiness too much on these things.
I also argue that reducing or eliminating marketing for pharmaceutical drugs on television and educating people about other therapies to replace or reduce pills, could also be helpful. Additionally, more research should be done to try to determine why more people in the United States are struggling with depression, if indeed that is the case. Finally, I argue that it would also help the situation if the US had at least some kind of adequate universal healthcare and better benefits for all employees such as paid family leave and a good amount of vacation and sick time. Having better support systems in place to help those who are struggling and to help prevent people getting to the point where they are struggling, would be important as well.
- American Lung Association. (2019, January 29) (Last updated). The Gavel that Unraveled the Tobacco Industry: 10 of the Most Appalling Facts about Tobacco Company Misdeeds from the Famous Federal Court Ruling. Retrieved from: https://www.lung.org/our- initiatives/tobacco/reports-resources/sotc/by-the-numbers/10-appalling-tobacco-facts.html
- Amos, O. (2017, October 25). Why opioids are such an American problem. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41701718
- Eisler, P. and Hansen, B. (2013, June 19). Doctors perform thousands of unnecessary surgeries. Retrieved from: usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/18/unnecessary-surgery-usa-today-investigation/2435009/
- Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living Foundation
- Healy, M. (2019, September 18). Who’s to blame for the nation’s opioid crisis? Massive trial may answer that question. Retrieved from: https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2019-09-17/opioid-lawsuit-who-is-to-blame
- Rubin, E. (2018, August 9). Depression in the United States—an Update. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/demystifying-psychiatry/201808/depression-in-the-united states-update
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