To be alone is one of the greatest evils.
Psychopharmaceuticals are plentiful here in the United States as a way to help individuals cope with psychic angst. Pharmaceuticals are marketed as a means to help anyone who is bereft with depression, PTSD, personality disorders, anxiety, PMS, menopause, postpartum-related depression, mood disorders, dysthymic conditions, and even grief.
A high number of bereaved parents, in my experience mostly mothers, are also prescribed anti-depressants. For some, these pharmaceutical remedies can bring equilibrium to a person who is fraught with debilitating mental illnesses. Yet, are we pathologizing normal, albeit painful, human experiences of suffering?
Indeed for others, according to Dr. Elio Frattaroli and psychiatrists critical of the overuse of prescriptions, SSRIs are being used as a shortcut to healing, the McDonald's treatment plan of the 21st Century- the comfortable numbing of a society. We are afraid to feel suffering. We are uncertain of our own strengths to cope with loss. We do not know how much we can- and should- rely on one another to help us through the human experience.
Interestingly, while SSRIs can help some selective patients with legitimate mental disorders, there are also long-lasting effects of SSRI use. Researchers at the University of Ottawa have discovered a correlation between stillbirth and other negative birth outcomes and SSRIs. While other studies have demonstrated inefficacy of some SSRIs, even in the case of the severely depressed wherein SSRIs were no more efficacious than a placebo. In some cases, it's worse than we realize. SSRIs were identified to increase violent thoughts toward self or others, including suicidal thoughts. The FDA has warned of these dangers at least twice; yet so many people remain enslaved in a cycle of medication and remedication.
I am not an expert in the use of psychopharmaceuticals for the severely depressed.
I do, however, know that there are voluminous studies on the benefits of human connectedness, social support, and compassionate others. Being connected with and supported by others helps women have healthier babies with higher Apgar scores. It helps women cope with the stress and angst of breast cancer. It reduces the effects of postpartum depression. It helps the homeless and mentally ill. It even helps accelerate recovery from a myocardial infarction (heart attack).
We are a society of aloneness, a society afraid of really experiencing our own emotions and the feelings of others. Many are emotionally bankrupt, while others are depleted of the most basic of human empathy. We are rushed, hurried, and harried. We do not have time for pause, or reflection, or grief- we have not scheduled suffering into our calendars. Our lives are consumed and constricted by things that are not real- Hollywood gossip, Blackberries and Palm Pilots, parties, Prada shoes, and consumerism. We are so diverted from what really matters that we hardly recognize that which is real- even real relationships. So few of us really have time for authentic relationships- the types of friendships in which we can entrust our pain and suffering. And it takes a tremendous amount of psychic energy to maintain the fraudulence of empty lives. Is it any wonder so many in Western society face the types of existential crises that cry out for meaning and purpose and connection?
There is no substitute for human relationships. In the absence of meaningful connections to others, we will not survive as a species nor as individuals. We need one another to help us through suffering. We need guidance through the human experience. The answers do not lie in a bottle or in a pill or in distractions or in diversions. Our salvation from suffering, what will save us from the darkness, is the hope, love, empathy, and compassion we offer and receive from one another. It is the only way through the human experience.
Have you come to that Red Sea place in your life
where there is no way out but through?