Compared to 30 years ago, our understanding of depression has advanced no end and there is less of a stigma attached to sufferers. Depression used to be misunderstood, and sufferers were stigmatized as weak and unable to cope with the pressures of life. But haven’t we all had days like that?
Surely this is a positive sign of social progression when someone can say to their friends and family that they have a mental health problem and be treated with respect and taken seriously .
Dr Salter, who has worked as a psychiatrist for 24 years, thinks the rise in cases of depression is partly down to a change in society’s norms and values, making it more socially acceptable for people to be honest about their feelings.
“An individual is as weak or as strong as a society expects him to be." Dr Salter said, "Happiness is available to everybody. These days expectation is higher. Society is saying it is ok to be weak and vulnerable as we have an emotional culture. There is nothing wrong with depression, it’s courageous to talk about it. [Society has] changed what depression means. Increasingly my job is to advise the people who are sad or have issues and pick out those who are amenable to depression."
Twenty years ago things were very different, as Salter says "people ‘got on with it’ and did not discuss feeling low, but in the 21st century people are more active and think of themselves as a victim. There has been an erosion in community, people are lonelier and a fragmented society equals more depression.”
But he says medication is not a miracle cure and should be approached with caution. “Prozac is marketed as a wonder cure, but it is not a cure." He added, "You need to address the causes. It’s like a crack in the ceiling, you can plaster up the cracks, but you have to look at the foundations as to [find out] what’s causing the cracks to appear.”