Are Americans more susceptible to depression or are they just less able to handle the frustrations that come with daily life? Certainly the antidepressant is not new, but it seems to have in many ways become a staple within a newly defined food group, a food group that includes our daily multi vitamin followed by the SSRI of our choice. Within my circle of friends, acquaintances and coworkers I am hard pressed to find one that is not on a medication for depression, anxiety or both. They seem to truly believe their medications enable them to lead a more productive and less stressful lives, yet the evidence of this transformation is not clearly visible. I work in the pharmaceutical industry and I have seen entire families on antidepressants and anxiety medication. One has to ask, how does this happen and does it have to?

While I do not dispute that there are many who may truly need medication, such as the severely depressed, suicidal and psychotic, there are just as many who have bought into the belief that mild depression and occasional anxiety and work related stress are factors only controllable through the use of antidepressants. We as a society want a quick fix and we have bought into the hype, the commercials that show us attractive people unable to enjoy the daily pleasures of living, a virtual before and after look at the magical awakening experienced by those willing to take that first step to the local pharmacy. We listen to the long list of possible side effects, but are willing to gamble on the hope that we will be able to live a fully joyous life like those portrayed in the commercials. We seem to want a quick fix, instant gratification and if a pill might bring it, why not, we tell ourselves.

Who can forget Tom Cruise and his verbal crucification of Brooke Shields use of antidepressants due to her bout with postpartum depression? I recall he proposed a proper diet and exercise as an appropriate remedy at the time. Certainly, no one other than a physician can make such a determination, but in all fairness to Tom, I think he simply overreacted due to his personal faith and religious philosophy.

Ecotherapy seems to be popular in many parts of Europe. This involves the prescription of long walks in green ecofriendly environments. Perhaps one might consider a long leisurely stroll through Central Park as a possible alternative, preferably during daylight hours. Let's face it, the pharmaceutical industry is big and getting bigger and there is obviously big money to be made in this billion dollar industry, but we should ask ourselves, what we are gaining other than a momentary reprieve and the inability to accept the harsh reality that life is rarely easy.

Author's Bio: 

I'm a freelance writer and former New Yorker now living in New Mexico. I have a legal background and at one time wrote a legal column called "The Legal Eye", for a once prominent internet service. I am currently in the healthcare field. I'm a big fan of the late Erma Bombeck and enjoy the rantings of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.