Antidepressants

**Not written by a doctor. Ask your doctor before taking action.**

Antidepressants work. If you think you need them you might consider asking your doctor about them. Some of us were simply born with brain chemistries that make it difficult to wake up in the morning, and antidepressants are life-saving, side-effects be damned.

I don’t wonder if antidepressants work, but I do wonder why so many of us need them in the first place.

In the first chapter of his book Tribe, Sebastian Junger points out that tribal societies showed almost no evidence of depression, anxiety, or suicide. Native Americans and the !Kung lived in tight-knit communities, almost never alone, which was probably a causal factor for their low rates of mental illness.

Then, the Europeans showed up, and Europeans wanted progress. They wanted wealth, prestige, and status.

And it turns out that when a culture becomes more affluent, with more wealthy individuals, rates of mental illness go up, not down. Financial freedom gives people the ability to make individual choices, and hence, to isolate themselves. Money has given us individual apartments, cars, media, technology, food, and algorithmically-generated spouses. Money has also given us epidemic levels of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and suicide.

I’m not advocating for a reversion to tribal life–Native Americans were also well-known for horrific warfare and torture. Modern life, despite its flaws, is certainly better than tribal life.

What I’m advocating for is a more thoughtful, communal approach to living as a human being. We lost that in our idea of “progress.”