Advertise Happiness

After a long stressful day at work you come home to cook dinner, feed the dog, do the dishes and then finally settle down to unwind by watching television. As you try to relax you are assaulted with commercials about depression with a soothing voice asking “Are you sad?” or “Are you tired?”. There are days the answer is yes, but does that mean medication is necessary.

Then the Abilify commercial informs you that 2 out of 3 people being treated for depression still have symptoms of depression, so you should add Abilify to your current medication. Instead of adding Abilify, maybe we should question why 2 out of 3 people are not being helped by their antidepressants or better yet question why 11 percent of Americans are taking an antidepressant.

Antipsychotics or psychiatric medications are the largest revenue producers for pharmaceutical companies. An estimated $15 billion per year goes to fuel the demand of psychiatric prescription drugs with antidepressants being the most profitable of this class of drugs. What used to be prescribed by psychiatrists is now easily prescribed by your family doctor to treat depression, anxiety and fatigue.

Pharmaceutical companies often spend more on advertising than they do on research and development of drugs. The TV commercials asking us personal questions should not be used to “sell” drugs. If we have a physical or emotional problem then we should make an appointment with a doctor, however, we should not be asked on a daily basis to evaluate our emotional state from our living room. The power of suggestion and repetition is great. If you see several ads for dessert then you want dessert and you go and get it. Same with drugs, after you have had heard “are you sad?” enough times, you begin to question it for yourself.

As a culture, we are so worried that children may be influenced to take up smoking, that we have put every limit possible on the tobacco industry to prevent advertising. But what do children think when they see the repeated advertising for depression? Are children answering the questions for themselves or are they looking at Mom or Dad and wondering if they are sad?

If we have the audacity to require tobacco companies to pay for advertising to prevent smoking and warn of the dangers, then maybe we should demand that the pharmaceutical companies start running “happiness” ads. What about the soothing voice saying “What are you grateful for today?” or “Turn off the TV and take your dog for a walk.”