Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease

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9781416569800: Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease

Am I depressed or just unhappy? In the last two decades, antidepressants have become staples of our medicine cabinets—doctors now write 120 million prescriptions annually, at a cost of more than 10 billion dollars. At the same time, depression rates have skyrocketed; twenty percent of Americans are now expected to suffer from it during their lives. Doctors, and drug companies, claim that this convergence is a public health triumph: the recognition and treatment of an under-diagnosed illness. Gary Greenberg, a practicing therapist and longtime depressive, raises a more disturbing possibility: that the disease has been manufactured to suit (and sell) the cure.

Greenberg draws on sources ranging from the Bible to current medical journals to show how the idea that unhappiness is an illness has been packaged and sold by brilliant scientists and shrewd marketing experts—and why it has been so successful. Part memoir, part intellectual history, part exposé—including a vivid chronicle of his participation in a clinical antidepressant trial—Manufacturing Depression is an incisive look at an epidemic that has changed the way we have come to think of ourselves.

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From the Back Cover:

Am I happy enough? This has been a pivotal question since America's inception. Am I not happy enough because I am depressed? is a more recent version. Psychotherapist Gary Greenberg shows how depression has been manufactured---not as an illness but as an idea about our suffering, its source, and its relief. He challenges us to look at depression in a new way. In the twenty years since their introduction, antidepressants have become staples of our medicine chests. Upwards of 30 million Americans are taking them at an annual cost of more than $10 billion. Even more important, Greenberg argues, it has become common, if not mandatory, to think of our unhappiness as a disease that can---and should---be treated by medication. Manufacturing Depression tells the story of how we got to this peculiar point in our history.

About the Author:

Gary Greenberg is a practicing psychotherapist in Connecticut and author of The Noble Lie. He has written about the intersection of science, politics, and ethics for many publications, including Harper's, the New Yorker, Wired, Discover, Rolling Stone, and Mother Jones, where he's a contributing writer.

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