Manufacturing Depression?

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Antidepressants are a multibillion dollar business in America and around the world. And therein, says psychotherapist Gary Greenberg, lies a big problem.

Pharmaceutical companies and researchers are casting their nets too wide to find new patients, calling normal, rational feelings a disease, says Greenberg. Some simple sadness, the occasional melancholy, is part of a normal life, he says, and getting rid of them may mean getting rid of the soul.

This hour On Point: manufacturing depression and the economy of melancholy.

Quotes from the Show:

"What really interested me about this experience [participating in a clinical trial study] was learning about the way that our experience of unhappiness or melancholy gets medicalized."

"On the one hand there're some real benefits to medicalizing suffering. ... On the other hand, the cost of medicalizing depression, at least in my experience, was that the study was interested in everything except my experience." Dr. Gary Greenburg

"The very reductionism that [Dr. Greenberg] disparages or at least critiques, is really necessary in order to make sense of the very complex data that every human brings into clinical work and clinical trials." Dr. Jonathan Alpert

"The cost of not [medicalizing depression] is much higher." Dr. Jonathan Alpert

"I am not against treating depression and unhappiness with drugs. ... The sole question I am raising is whether their depression has to be medicalized in order to be treated." Dr. Gary Greenburg

"Yes, I think it's very important to distinguish illness from non-illness." Peter Kramer


Gary Greenberg, psychotherapist and uthor of an essay in the May issue of Harper's Magazine called "Manufacturing Depression";
Dr. Jonathan Alpert, Associate Director of the Depression Research Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.;
Dr. Peter Kramer, a clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University and author of "Against Depression," "Listening to Prozac" and "Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind."

This program aired on April 20, 2007.


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