Taking the Pill: Depression and Social Stigma Depression is widespread in today's society and is called 'the common cold of mental health problems.' But despite its prevalence, people are wary about the use of a pill in order to chase the blues away. Some even liken anti-depressants to Soma as depicted in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Soma is the perfect pleasure drug that provides a mindless, inauthentic happiness, which makes people comfortable with their lack of freedom. Depression is often disregarded as a serious illness. Society, as a whole, stigmatizes depression and sees anti-depressants as a way out instead of a legitimate medicine. But the people that feel this way, often have not had any personal experience with this illness.
The physical basis of depression involves neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages from one nerve cell to another. Nerve cells do not touch. There are microscopic gaps between them called synapses.
For a nerve impulse to travel from one nerve cell to another, the sending cell releases a tiny amount of one of the neurotransmitters, which transmits the signal to the second cell, and so on around the body. After a nerve impulse has been sent across a synapse, special enzymes clear away the neurotransmitter so that another impulse may be sent.
The first antidepressants, monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, were discovered accidentally during the 1960's by researchers who were trying to develop new drugs to treat tuberculosis. MAO inhibitors didn't help TB, but they elevated mood. Since then, many other types of antidepressants have been developed. They are all about equally effective. But the newer drugs are safer and for most people, have fewer side effects. In order of their development, here are today's antidepressants: MAO inhibitors, Tricyclic medications, Tetracyclic medications, Wellbutrin, Desyrel,