The Waiting Room / Melancholia Tableau

Check out these Symptoms of depression images:

The Waiting Room / Melancholia Tableau
Symptoms of depression

Image by Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Freud’s Fainting Couch
Hybridized 19th century lady’s fainting couch and Sigmund Freud’s study chair

Gray Matter
Etched velvet for Melancholia Tableau depicting three basic types of neurons affected by depression: motor, sensory and interneuron, as well as the molecular structures of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, sleep and memory; also represented are antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac); and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)

Laden: Melancholia Glove
Victorian-style opera length glove of glass beads and crystals

Knit, sewn, and crocheted handkerchiefs printed with molecular diagrams of antidepressants, serotonin, neurons, estrogen, and more; handmade wooden boxes

Exquisite Suffering
Headphones; audio recordings and sound compositions: Lullaby, Shame and Memory

Our depression patient reclines on a post-Freudian couch/therapy office chair upholstered with burned-out velvet, etched with organically patterned molecular diagrams of Prozac, neurons, synapses, and serotonin receptors.

Nearby a single glove is left behind, so heavily laden with dripping, tear-like beads that any wearer would be rendered motionless. Grayish handkerchiefs embroidered and printed with anti-depressant imagery are preserved in containers reminiscent both of tissue and specimen boxes.

Depression is a debilitating mood disorder and medical condition that persists over an extended time period, or occurs in episodes that interfere with normal life. Symptoms of the most common forms– Major Depression and Dysthymic Disorder– include changes in sleeping and eating patterns, difficulty thinking, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, fatigue, anxiety, changes in motor functioning, muscular pain, digestive problems, hopelessness and thoughts of death. In Dysthymic Disorder, symptoms may be less severe, but last longer than two years. Over 17 million Americans are diagnosed with depression annually.

Women are twice as likely than men to suffer from depression, and this disease is misdiagnosed 30-50% of the time. It is often concurrent with eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders, also more prevalent in females. Despite this, the over-prescription of anti-depressant medications—which often have serious side-effects—is alarming. Females are 2 ½ times more likely than males to be taking antidepressants.

Comfortably Numb
Symptoms of depression

Image by elycefeliz…
When writer and social-service professional Charles Barber began working with the mentally ill and chronically homeless in the ’80s, he had a hard time explaining his job to friends. They were frequently confused by names and descriptions of illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and the accompanying prescription drug nomenclature seemed like a foreign language.

. . . By the end of the ’90s, though, things had changed. Barber found that a huge chunk of the U.S. population had achieved fluency in both the diagnoses and the drug treatments for a variety of mental illnesses.

In his second book, "Comfortably Numb," Barber explores the world of psychopharmacology, something many of us already take for granted in a post-"Prozac Nation" world. He charts the rise of "the medicalization of unhappiness," investigates what is known and unknown about brain chemistry, and offers alternatives to easy pill-popping for common ailments such as mild depression.

It’s not, Barber is quick to say, that prescription drugs have no place in mental health treatment or that advances haven’t been made in drug treatments. Far from it. But a combination of the deregulation of drug advertising, striking growth in numbers of recognized mental illnesses and the rise of managed care has sold the American public on the notion that problems such as depression and anxiety are best cured by medication.

"TV advertising of drugs is illegal everywhere but the U.S. and New Zealand," Barber says. "It’s made them household objects, and led to drugs being thought of as commodities like Diet Coke and Chevrolet." The result of this increased accessibility has been that the abuse of prescription drugs has skyrocketed, with young people using fewer illicit drugs than filched legal ones, which are no less dangerous.

Now that SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil are almost two decades old and depression, anxiety and stress have only loomed larger in the American consciousness, it’s time to re-evaluate treatment options, Barber says. He wants more attention paid to the advances in cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapeutic techniques in alleviating symptoms of unhappiness.

"When I talk about alternative approaches, I want to emphasize that these diseases are very complex and chronic. We need to guard against the idea that anything is a panacea," Barber says. "That’s how we got into this bind. It’s a very American idea that right around the corner, if we only try this one thing, things are going to be wonderful."…

Crazy Like Us
Symptoms of depression

Image by elycefeliz

AMERICANS, particularly if they are of a certain leftward-leaning, college-educated type, worry about our country’s blunders into other cultures. In some circles, it is easy to make friends with a rousing rant about the McDonald’s near Tiananmen Square, the Nike factory in Malaysia or the latest blowback from our political or military interventions abroad. For all our self-recrimination, however, we may have yet to face one of the most remarkable effects of American-led globalization. We have for many years been busily engaged in a grand project of Americanizing the world’s understanding of mental health and illness. We may indeed be far along in homogenizing the way the world goes mad.

This unnerving possibility springs from recent research by a loose group of anthropologists and cross-cultural psychiatrists. Swimming against the biomedical currents of the time, they have argued that mental illnesses are not discrete entities like the polio virus with their own natural histories. These researchers have amassed an impressive body of evidence suggesting that mental illnesses have never been the same the world over (either in prevalence or in form) but are inevitably sparked and shaped by the ethos of particular times and places.

. . . In any given era, those who minister to the mentally ill — doctors or shamans or priests — inadvertently help to select which symptoms will be recognized as legitimate. Because the troubled mind has been influenced by healers of diverse religious and scientific persuasions, the forms of madness from one place and time often look remarkably different from the forms of madness in another.

That is until recently.

For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world. We have done this in the name of science, believing that our approaches reveal the biological basis of psychic suffering and dispel prescientific myths and harmful stigma. There is now good evidence to suggest that in the process of teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases. These symptom clusters are becoming the lingua franca of human suffering, replacing indigenous forms of mental illness.

2 Kommentare zu “The Waiting Room / Melancholia Tableau

  1. redsteffie Autor des Beitrags

    Does he discuss the role that insurance companies have played in this? They will cover nearly all of the cost of medication (especially if you get a generic!) but if you need more than a handful of visits to a psychologist, be prepared to dig deep in your wallet.

  2. elycefeliz Autor des Beitrags

    Yes, and it also came up in another book I read, Crazy Like Us – it’s striking how belief systems, business, economics and politics all play a role in how problems are framed, as well as in the "solutions" -
    Depression: Drug v. Talk Therapy

    Health insurance plan limits on therapy visits and costs kept some people from getting the best treatment.

    Another finding: Nearly one in five people said their health plans don’t cover mental health.

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