wouldn't a doctor want to "look at" this theoretical patient's chemicals before they prescribe them things that will alter this patient's chemicals?
First of all, the baseline levels of serotonin (and probably other neurochemicals) vary from person to person. A doctor could not determine what's amiss in your head through measurements alone. Secondly, listening to a patient talk is cheaper and more convenient than running sophisticated tests.
my broad diagnosis of depression: a lack of outlets for one's thymos.
I agree, but that doesn't mean genetic/biological factors don't play a role in depression. Having a genetic predisposition can cause the magnitude of depression to be out of proportion to the cause. I beleive in such cases the use of antidepressants is warranted -- if one's depression becomes so severe that it becomes impossible to address the underlying issue(s). Admittedly, my position is rooted in personal experience. I currently take a mild dose of Lexapro, and I'm grateful for it.
I pretty much inherited my mom's brain. I got her intelligence along with the slew of mental issues that run in her family. I started to experience depression/anxiety when I moved from a small, somewhat rural town to go to school in the city. At first I thought it might've been my daily marijuana use and non-existent sleep schedule, so I quit smoking and normalized my sleeping habits... but my mental condition only worsened. I became agoraphobic, impassive and extremely anti-social: I stopped seeing friends, stopped going to class, had no desire to do anything. Being a dysfunctional wreck, I decided I needed help, and started seeing a psychiatrist. After about a month on Lexapro, I began to feel 'normal' again. I realized that I had cut myself off from my family and that I hated the city, so I started going home on weekends.
Now, I am NOT saying antidepressants are A-OK, just that they can have certain benefits for certain people, specifically those like myself who have a family history of depression. But they have become an emotional panacea... a way for people to numb themselves to problems instead of fixing them. (OMG LIEK SOMA FROM BRAVE NEW WRLD HULXEY IS RIGTH ABOUTEVRTHING!!!!!1) As per Modernity, the convenient solution is the correct solution, even if it fails -- Antidepressants didn't stop Eric Harris from shooting up Columbine High School, but w/e!
It's not just anti-depressants, though. Every drug
that "fixes" mood/thought/behavior is over-prescribed, and this trend is only growing. Psychopharmacology is a ticking time-bomb. My mom is a first grade teacher, and she provides interesting insight into how future generations are forming. She's told me some of the children in her class are on Prozac already... wtf. Developmental risks notwithstanding, we're raising kids into adults who will be dependent on ADs to cope with life. And then there's the 'ADHD' phenomenon, turning kids whose balls have barely dropped into speed freaks... The children in her class prescribed to stimulants are much more attentive and focused than before they were before, but I can only imagine the state of dependency they'll be in by the time they're 20. I myself took Adderall for a time in high school, and kicking it was torture... I knew I didn't really need it, but for a young, naive teen with a penchant for anything psychoactive, it was too good a deal to pass up! Tell your GP you have trouble focusing and in 15 minutes your parents will be paying for your own personal supply of speed.... Again, wtf.
I admire the generations of the past, particularly my maternal ancestors, for being able to deal with life without any chemical assistance (or maybe they took St John's Wort, a flower that supposedly has properties similar to an SSRI antidepressant...)
tl;dr: Antidepressants can be beneficial but they're over-prescribed.