This past Tuesday (23/04/2013), The Independent featured an article on anxiety by Markie Robson-Scott, ‘The age of anxiety: a medical condition or just the new normal?’ Robson-Scott questions whether feeling worry is part of being human and whether it’s helpful and/or necessary to rely on prescription medication.
As the article highlights, anxiety represents the fight/flight mechanisms in our brain. Yet rather than running from a hungry lion, we now worry about everything from our finances, relationships, jobs, health and wider societal issues such as the economy, politics and crime. The line between everyday anxieties and an anxiety disorder that requires medication is blurry. Moreover stress tolerance levels are not uniform and individuals respond very differently to various pressures and situations. Yet it is also the case that prescription use is often driven by patient/consumer demand. Particularly in the US where prescription drug addiction rates are high and insurance companies net a profit for every Xanax prescribed. Perhaps the problem is simply a reflection of our desire for quick fixes and instantaneous results. Or it may represent the privatisation of mental health issues more generally where there is an expectation that personal problems will be self-managed.
What is the best way forward? As we have developed as a society, have we forgotten how to self-soothe and help soothe others without meds? Have we over-medicalised anxiety, stress and worry? Conversely, how do we avoid judging and stigmatising those who do need to take medication for an anxiety disorder?
Have a read of the article and let us know your thoughts!
The IMH Blog Editorial Team
(Jenelle Clarke, Melanie Jordan and Amanda Keeling)