Raena Morgan: Doctor Scott, are mental problems necessarily mental disease? Because I remember as a child in the 50’s hearing about people having a “nervous breakdown” and you always heard about nerves. In fact, this book here I dug out, Hope and Help for Your Nerves, was published in 1969. We don’t hear about nerves anymore, but we do hear about mental disease.
Dr. Timothy Scott: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, it’s again a good reason for the title of my book, American Fooled. The very language we use today has changed. It used to be we talked about nervous breakdowns,-
RM: Nerves, yes.
TS: People talk about “my nerves are just shot,” and the reason they did so was because that was what was promoted; we promoted antianxiety drugs. The billions of dollars are not on the side saying ‘that’s not true;’ the billions of dollars to be made are on the side of those who are saying ‘this is true, take our drug.’
TS: And so they were promoting an idea, and consequently people bought into it, people everywhere were taking the antianxiety drugs; Xanax became a number one drug; Valium became a number one drug. When those patents ran out, the drug companies had to come up with something else, and what they came up with was the idea of depression. You did not hear much about depression back in the 50s and 60s,-
RM: No. No you did not.
TS: -even in the 70s you didn’t. As the patents began to wear out on the anti-anxiety drugs, and so depression’s always been here, commonly called melancholia in past centuries.
RM: Yes, melancholia.
TS: And you have it even in the Bible, so we can go back thousands of years and read about depression. We can even read about suicide cases in the Bible. So it’s nothing new, and yet what has changed is it’s seen today as a disease, not a problem.
RM: Mental illness-
RM: -is a disease?
TS: I prefer not to call it a mental disease or a normal illness, but to talk about mental problems, because disease implies there’s nothing you can do about it.
RM: That it’s organic.
TS: Yeah, organic. You caught a particular kind of a germ, it’s a chemical imbalance, and so forth. So what can you do? You can’t. It’s not your fault, it’s nobodies fault, it just developed. A mental problem eliminates that and says maybe there is something you can do to have good mental health. And I argue strongly, yes, there are a lot of things you can do, choices you can make that will lead to good mental health; it’s a much more positive view of human beings.
RM: So mental health is not centered around curing a mental disease is what you’re saying.
TS: That’s correct. And of course we can also simply look at numbers. If you look at the amount of people who reported depression- we do have a study, I’m glad to say, that’s an early study. We look at those who are born before 1905, how many ever got depressed during their lifetime? And the answer is about one percent, one percent. We got to 1955, how many of those folks are going to be depressed by age seventy-five? Well the numbers are going to be huge, and we know by age twenty-five, in the study we looked at those who got depressed by age twenty-five, six percent just by age twenty-five. So the numbers are hugely greater than they used to be. It’s because it’s promoted today. People think in terms of depression, talk about depression, and are taking antidepressant drugs.
Dr. Timothy Scott discusses mental health problems and how they have changed over the decades. Depression rates have increased over time due to the fact that it's now promoted more than in years past. Find out how patents on drugs played a role on diagnosis!
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