Depression: the drug suits everyone

The psychiatrist Serge Hefez signed the call of the doctors against the abuse of antidepressants. He goes back to the reasons for this French exception.

Laurence Folléa

Psychologies: How can this overconsumption of psychotropic drugs be explained in France?

Serge Hefez: There is a very strong psychotropic product culture here: we are also among the biggest consumers of alcohol and cannabis in Europe. This reflects a specificity of "French-style depression": in polls on the quality of life or the vision of the future, we always appear more in the complaint than the others. This seems to be linked to a way of relying on the protection of the welfare state. More concretely, our health system, without doubt the best in Europe, to say the least of the world, means that anyone, without paying a penny, can almost in the minute have access to a doctor and medicines. Try to see a GP in England, you will wait at least six months. In Italy or elsewhere, you have to pay a lot of money.

Why do we have this "medicine reflex" to relieve our moral suffering?

Serge Hefez: Because we consider that all suffering is a pathological state. The great novelty of these last decades, it is to medicalize the suffering, as to medicalize the death, the mourning. It amounts to conveying the idea that normality is happiness. Certainly, each one of us aspires to joy, to happiness, but to say that it is normal, it makes tilt what is of the order of the suffering and the sadness on the side of pathological, therefore of the medical one. It is an ethical question, a dynamic in which we are taken, patients as doctors. Finally, the use of medication suits everyone.

We all seem to mistake depression and depression.

Serge Hefez: Because there is no watertight border. It is a transition between a "normal" state, which we all know at one time or another - depression, the wave to the soul, anxiety, blues ... - and a pathological state - the depression - in which, despite our good will, we can not get better, to make a project, to move. The whole question lies in this rather subjective and complex estimate of the physiological depression in opposition to the "normal" depression. Faced with someone who is in mourning or experiencing sentimental disappointment, it is important to consider whether it will do him any good to go through this process of mourning or sorrow than to put on a "medicinal veil". This is not evaluated in ten minutes, it is discussed between the doctor and his patient.

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