Sunday, March 25, 2012
The Medicalization of Society
Peter Conrad's book The Medicalization of Society opened my eyes to a lot of things that I have never really thought of before or knew about in the medical and health care industry. The medicalization of certain human problems and issues seems to be not beneficial at all in my opinion. As a follow up to the book, I read an article in a science magazine about medicalization as well in order to understand the concept better. I found out that such medicalization of things that are clearly unnecessary like erectile dysfunction and menopause are contributing to the fact that we spend altogether $77.1 million as a collective nation on treatments for "diseases" like these and that accounts for 3.9 percent of domestic health care costs. This is absolutely ridiculous. Why do these conditions need to be medicalized and considered diseases? I understand that as humans we are very concerned about our health and when one little thing goes wrong we immediately want to take medicine and get treatment for it, but this is going overboard. Conrad's book states how pharmaceutical companies and drug companies are looking at health as a consumer industry. They are marketing in order to appeal to a customer so that people will buy this medicine. For example, he noted that Paxil, an SSRI wanted to expand the scope of what the drug treats so that they will get more people to buy it. Therefore, the FDA approved them to put additional applications of the product such as little side branches that come with depression like GAD and SAD. This apparently contributed to the drug being able to medicalize straight emotions such as shyness and worry. That just seems a little bit over the top. There is a definitive line between what you can call a disease and what is just a symptom resulting from the tresses of every day life or a daily occurrence, like a headache that will eventually go away. There is no need to medicalize things that are so small scale in comparison to what really needs to be treated and advertised for and sold to "consumers."