Saturday, May 12, 2018

Making America Depressed

When it comes to diagnosing major depression, Blue Cross Blue Shield has skin the game. It pays for treatment of this mental illness and it pays for the treatment of ancillary illnesses—which major depression increases significantly.

BCBS only tallied the instances of major depression among those who were commercially insured. I assume that this excludes Medicaid and Medicare recipients.

Note also that the study involves major depression, not mild depression or sadness or a bad mood. Major depression is crippling, inhibiting one’s ability to function in the world, to feel pleasure, to experience desire and to focus or concentrate on a task at hand.

In any case, BCBS is alarmed. Here is the bullet-point summary of its recent study:

  • Diagnoses of major depression have risen dramatically by 33 percent since 2013. This rate is rising even faster among millennials (up 47 percent) and adolescents (up 47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls).
  • Women are diagnosed with major depression at higher rates than men (6 percent and nearly 3 percent, respectively).
  • People diagnosed with major depression are nearly 30 percent less healthy on average than those not diagnosed with major depression. This decrease in overall health translates to nearly 10 years of healthy life lost for both men and women.4

I add this paragraph from the report:

The most dramatic rise in major depression diagnosis is among those under 35 years of age. Between 2013 and 2016 diagnoses increased 63 percent among adolescents and 47 percent among millennials (see Exhibit 3). Gender differences among millennials were similar but among adolescents there was a 65 percent increase for girls compared to a 47 percent rise for boys. These quickly rising rates of diagnosed major depression in younger age groups can have broader implications on future healthcare needs as they grow into later adulthood. Effective diagnosis and management of major depression in these early years is crucial to positively impact future health and wellness.

Allow me a few observations. They might be coincidence. They might be correlation and not causation. But, you will notice that this “dramatic rise in major depression” occurred during the second term of the Obama presidency. Could it be that the Obama presidency was bad for our mental health?

How is it possible that the Obama presidency produced more major depression? We might speculate that Obama’s tendency to talk America down, to apologize for the country, to accuse it of being a criminal enterprise, to accept humiliation at the hands of other world leaders… would have diminished national pride and therefore, individual pride. Less pride equals more depression.

The sense of helplessness, that you can do nothing about a president who is trying systematically to diminish and demoralize the nation, might contribute to depression.

Second, young people suffered the greatest percentage rise. Girls became depressed more often than boys. Ought we not to notice that, during this period, our educational system became increasingly feminized and more matriarchal? Apparently, beating up on boys and extolling the superior virtue and wisdom of girls does not do very much good for either boys or girls. Did feminist propaganda hurt girls' mental health-- by teaching them that being a girl was a curse, by making them feel like oppressed victims. 

Moreover, the American school system has been invaded by self-esteemist pedagogues, who believe that they must make everyone feel good, no matter what they can and cannot accomplish in school. Children who are not learning anything in school might well feel that their dumbed down curriculum is making them useless.

Add to that the frenzy over political correctness. Children, and nearly everyone else, are now being taught that they must take serious offense about the least slight or insult. They learn to become hypersensitive to any events or words that trigger any traumatic reactions. And thus, to be constantly on the lookout for politically correct words, thoughts or feelings. Better yet, they are taught that if they are harassed or abused, these traumas define them now and forever. They have suffered such grievous harm that they will never recover. If that message does not depress them, what will.

Thus, children are learning to be thin skinned. If they are thick skinned, if they allow offenses to bounce off their carapace, they are failing to advance the cause of social justice.  And yet, nothing will make you more depressed than thin skin. In truth, being thin skinned, overreacting to any and every slight or insult, is one major characteristic of depression.

So, during the Obama years America got into the business of producing major depression. Are you proud of it?


Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Could it me that the Obama presidency was bad for our mental health?

Is that a Freudian slip of some sort?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

More likely a dumb mistake....

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Children, and nearly everyone else, are now being taught that they must take serious offense about the least slight or insult. They learn to become hypersensitive to any events or words that trigger any traumatic reactions.

No, maybe what it being taught is that we're supposed to bend over backwards to not offend people, or say things that might upset the small minority who are more easily triggered. And so those with thinner skin may convince themselves that they'll get stronger by making other people wrong for offending them.

But Obama did speak up against "looking for insults":
"My advice ... is don't go around just looking for insults," he said. "You're tough. If somebody says something you don't agree with, just engage them on their ideas.

Sam L. said...

I have depressed my OFF switch. I am NOT depressed, and was not previously depressed.
Does that make me UPpressed? I think so, therefore I am.

Ares, I'm pretty sure that Freud did not wear a slip. Though he may have tried one on. Not that there's anything WRONG with that.

whitney said...

I think we should stop using the word depressed entirely. Just use sad or one of the many synonyms available. Depressed implies you have no agency. Sad you can look around and find out why you're sad and maybe do something about it.
Did I get that from your book? I got it from somewhere

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree that depression is overdone... like narcissism. When the term is that overused it ceases to mean anything. For my part I prefer despair.

whitney said...

That's just it really. There's a huge range of feeling in between despair and sad and yet depressed covers at all. It's so inexact that it's rendered meaningless

Sam L. said...

The media contributes by telling us how bad, Bad, BAD TRUMP(!!!!!11111!!!!!) is for us and the nation.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

It is most curious that this is the greatest era of opportunity for girls and young women in world history. The result is a massive increase in major depression and the me too movement.

Victimhood creates sadness and anger. Seems like we have quite a bit of both.

I wonder what David Hogg thinks of this. I am sure he thinks young people have a right to not be depressed.