Over at Practice of Madness, Scarsarestories has an interesting post about the creation of depression in Japan. In the Japanese culture, depression did not exist as a concept until the pharmaceutical industry created the idea of a “cold of the soul”. Note that, according to this old New York Times article, this term refers to minor depression only, for which antidepressants are not generally effective. Major and manic depression were known in Japan before pharma stepped in, but they were highly stigmatized and only to be treated in mental institutions. In that sense, the popularization of depression in Japan had a positive effect, in that severe depression became more widely known to the general public.
However, treatment for depression, beyond antidepressants, is still rare. Talk therapy hardly exists, while that has a vital place in the treatment of minor as well as major depression. If all you can do is swallow a pill, and if that pill doesn’t work, you still carry a stigma for not being able to take your suffering – plus, you might run the risk of unnecessary institutionalization for mental illness. That is hardly an improvement from being expected to just accept whatever life throws at you.