Antidepressants are big business. Americans spend more
than $86 billion a year on antidepressants alone. Pharmaceutical
companies spend nearly 10 billion dollars each year on marketing and
Antidepressants are among the most commonly prescribed and
most profitable drugs in America. Very little money is spent in the U.S.
to promote awareness of healthier alternatives.
Good humour for 2 bucks seems like a bargain then, considering.
One of the things you can't miss in the USA, should you consume more than a few minutes of commercial television, is advertising for prescription drugs.
It's really, really weird.
As with all things, novelty tends to jar - so coming from the UK where there isn't any, you are first struck by a] the fact that there is some and then b] just how much of it there is.
For things you didn't even know were things - like Restless Leg Syndrome [which is in fact a real thing - I checked because, well, it sounds like it isn't - but doctors suggest that it isn't as prevalent as the TV campaigns might suggest - and specifically that it ISN'T just a tic, but a serious condition that causes pain].
The ads all end the same way:
And the disclaimers are usually hilarious - the side effects of all medications almost always include exacerbation of the original symptoms: anti-depressants may cause suicidal ideation.
Which is something that doctors understand and take into account, which is why we have prescriptions.
Ultimately, this is a reflection of the sanctification of autonomy - as patients have become more involved in their health decisions, they need to be better informed - which leads to Web M.D. and, more recently, Google Health.
Whether that leads to a healthier, happier society is debatable. The issue here is one of informational asymmetry.
Doctor's know stuff we don't. That's why we seek their advice. But when people know things we don't, there is a tendency not to trust their advice. Think about mechanics, or builders, or any other specialist provider who tells you that you need expensive work done - and you know there's no way for to know if they are telling the truth.
So we look to arm ourselves with information, so we can't be hoodwinked, to allow us to make informed decisions.
Which is great when you are buying a car - the internet has completely changed the dynamics of that market, empowering consumers with the fair market price for a sedan.
But our health is significantly more complex than other purchase decisions. Medical school takes a long time. And without that foundation, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.