By Valerie Minard
“Abilify can break the ball and chain and “aid in symptom” improvement for women who suffer from depression.” That’s the message an ad now playing promises viewers taking this antidepressant booster.
Marketing depression – and drugs to deal with it – to women is not new. One study found that 93% of magazine ads for anti-depressants featured a woman as the main character. Defenders of this advertising argue women are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men anyway. And, statistics show American women using antidepressants 2.5 times more than men, with 1 out of 4 women taking a psychiatric drug. Some experts, however, are beginning to question if this kind of advertising is actually part of the cause rather than the effect of these statistics.
Even before our society developed a huge pharmaceutical industry, advertising diseases and their remedies had been going on for a very long time. According to health researcher and Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy, “The press unwittingly sends forth many sorrows and diseases among the human family. It does this by giving names to diseases and by printing long descriptions which mirror images of disease distinctly in thought!” That was about 150 years ago.
Today, more doctors are recognizing the correlation between advertising and it’s impact on health. Dr. Larry Dossey, a physician of internal medicine, believes it’s the fear of death and suffering that make people susceptible to disease mongering in advertising. “The best way to resist…,” he says, “is not to beat our heads against the fortress of Big Pharma, but to develop the psychological and spiritual maturity that makes us resistant to their efforts to instill fear and dread in our lives.”
There is no formula for developing psychological and spiritual maturity. But an approach I’ve found helpful is to question the assumption that I am, by nature, more susceptible as a woman to these diseases and, thus, in need of the drugs these advertisements sell. I can challenge that assumption because my exploration into the nature of my true self has led me to understand that I am the loved child of an infinitely good Creator. I am constantly building my spiritual maturity with this kind of reasoning.
This is what Martha Niggeman did too. Some time ago she was diagnosed with manic depression, which is considered incurable. She was taking prescribed daily medication. Her doctor told her if she didn’t take them, he would not be responsible for her suicidal tendencies. But, even with the meds, Martha had times when she was hospitalized for long periods.
Then one difficult night in the hospital, when she couldn’t focus or think straight, she said, “If I could just read one word . . . Help me, God.” She opened the Bible and read this, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Although in the past, the mental turmoil would last hours or days, Martha felt suddenly at peace. “I felt God’s great, loving presence, and knew I could never, ever, be separated from Love,” she said.
This experience inspired her to seek a spiritual solution for her problem. She decided to make a firm commitment to stick with prayer and the spiritual ideas she was learning from the Bible and Eddy’s works. She stopped taking the meds and found that her thinking and action became more normal.
Although it took several years to gain her complete freedom, she gradually “began to see the disease as an imposter. I gained an unshakable conviction of the spiritual reality that I was the peaceful expression of the one divine Mind, [God],” she said.
Like Martha, we can see depression as an “imposter.” Because we are tied to Love, any label that separates us from identifying with our true spiritual nature can be rejected. We are fully equipped to rip off these limiting labels, whether they come at us from the media, the pharmaceutical industry or simply the views of friends, family or acquaintances. Our true spiritual nature – to be joyful and happy – has always remained intact, complete, and free.