Visual Rhetoric- Rewrite- Misterfries19

Play Catch With Her

0:00 – 0:03

As our scene begins, the sun seems to be on the verge of rising above or falling beyond the horizon of an invitingly calm low tide. I can’t actually see the sun, but it’s rays are reflecting off of the ripples of the waves and pyramids in the sand, making the entire frame look like a piece of granite taken out of a kitchen countertop. Closer to the edge of the water is a young man, alone for an instant. Dressed in all black sweat pants and sweatshirt, his outfit changes my perception of what season it may be. He doesn’t seem too cold, but I get the sensation that it is a fall evening. Standing near the water, and alone for an instant, he punts the ball into the air. As the ball ascends towards its vertex, a tiny girl wanders into frame, immediately in awe of the ball. She is dressed in all red or pink, which shows a strong contrast to how the young man is dressed. This could be drawing us to her femininity, or it could be representing how vibrant and optimistic she is in her young age. In contrast, the man’s decision to wear all black could be showing us somebody who is despondent, or who has grown somewhat lonely. Whereas the little girl is simply enamored with the ball in all of it’s flight and descension, the man seems to be unconcerned with the ball. He is tossing the ball out of boredom. The relationship between the child and man is unknown, but it is possible this is a father-daughter moment being shared with us. Further analysis makes me doubt this, however. As the ball falls, the girl approaches it, wholeheartedly. She wants the ball. The man sees the girl intercept his route to the ball, and he backs away. It doesn’t seem affectionate, or expected, because his backing away doesn’t accompany a smile or any kind of physical gesture other than the blank half content look the guy has had on his face the whole time. He backs away from the girl almost hastily, as if he didn’t know she was there. I almost get the sense that he has been politely annoyed by the girl.

0:04 – 0:06

The scene shifts instantaneously to a whole new surrounding, but the atmosphere remains remarkably familiar to the previous few seconds. There is no change in mood. The sun looks to be rising, as we can see morning dew in the foreground of the scene, on what is somewhat longer cut grass. In the distance, a charmingly quaint and slightly beaten down house nestles between a few shrubs and trees, and is towered over by a dominant oak tree. Attached to the house looks to be an outdoor porch, closed in by windows and screening, but maintaining the outdoor feeling. Finally, we get to the figure in the center of the frame. Judging by the his frame and clothing, we can determine this is a man. Donning washed blue jeans, worker boots, a baseball cap, and a jacket, the man seems to be well on his way into the day, despite it being obviously early. This man is representative of a blue collar individual. A real “man at night, man in the morning” kind of guy. Almost fading with the pixels of the camera, we can faintly see a windmill peer up from above the tree line. This can possibly be even more evidence that the setting is a farm, and the man is the farmer. As we drop back into focus, the man shines almost inversely, as his shadow pierces the light coming from the sun to give him an almost divine look. The front yard is empty, but full of long grass and sunlight.

0:06-0:07

As the next frame comes into play, we see a young, black child. The child’s short hair would indicate a boy, but the patterned skirt ending above the knees make me believe this is a girl. Furthermore, I can make the assumption that the child is with someone, as a rainbow patterned ball is tossed in her direction. The child is in tears, staring in the direction the ball came from in fear, but still holding her hands out. Furthermore, the shoes the child play in are far too big, meaning whoever the child is with could possibly be much older than the child. In the background, we see patches of dead grass, surrounded by a high fence. A metal trash can lays in the corner. This reminds me of every beaten-down park I have ever visited, and we can presume this is a park. As the frame changes again, we see another young girl, this time accompanied by an older man. The girl is black, and wearing a black shirt. I assume she is a girl based on her haircut, which has bands in it to hold design. She is again holding a rainbow ball, similar to the one in the previous frame. The man is dressed in lack as well, and is fixated on the girl. As she plays with the ball, he watches on and follows. The two actors having the same ethnicity, as well as wearing matching colored shirts can show that they are, possibly, family. The black shirt on the daughter may also indicate her want for masculinity, or at least to play with the ball. In the next frame, we see a newly refurbished kitchen, decked out in white paint and marble counter-tops. A stainless steel refrigerator matched with the white interior can show a possible change in reality compared to the outdoor setting involving the previous African-American actors. In the kitchen, we see a small, blonde haired girl. She is dressed in a blue princess gown. In the frame, she looks around the corner, before darting off camera.

0:08-0:11

The next frame shows a younger man, wearing a casual dark sweater, and with seemingly longish brown hair. In the background, we see garage doors, with lights burning alongside the windows. The lights are noticeable, and the scene is dim. We can infer that this young man is outside his garage, and that it is the night time, or close to it. The man raises his right arm and stares up into the air. His eyes move towards his left, and his body reacts. We can assume that he has tossed something up in the air, and intends to catch it. This also brings into question whether or not this is at night, as it is hard to play catch in the dark. Therefore, this may possibly be dusk. As the man looks up to catch what he threw, we realize that he is not alone. Somebody’s arms pop up in the corner of frame as the ball falls. Furthermore, the arms lunge upwards, seemingly in anticipation to catch whatever has been thrown. The figure, wearing a red t shirt, is much smaller than the man, as can be established by comparing their heights to the height of the garage. The frame changes again, and we again see a little girl in a princess costume. This time, she is facing the camera from a closer angle. She is in a kitchen, again with a stainless steal refrigerator at her back, and marble counter-tops with white drawers. This is the same girl, and the same kitchen as seen in the same frame before. The girl reaches out and catches a ball that is tossed to her. Her face is anxious, but happy. She doesn’t let out a giant smile, but the indentations in her cheek show that it is certainly getting there. She doesn’t lose focus on whoever tossed the ball to her, and she actually raises her eyebrows in the direction. She is intrigued, and possibly wants more. Her motion side to side indicate that she has a lot of energy, and is willing to keep playing.

Self Reflective- misterfries19

Core Value 1. My work demonstrates that I used a variety of social and interactive practices that involve recursive stages of exploration, discovery, conceptualization, and development.

At first, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to revising and re-writing preliminary essays, and over time, that sentiment did not change. That doesn’t mean I didn’t realize how helpful it is. The Causal, Rebuttal, and Definition essays were tedious and repetitive in nature, but by the time I got to my actual research paper, everything was a lot easier. Having rewritten three essays with different perspectives and goals in mind, crafting my final essay was more of a matter of piecing together the paper than starting from scratch. In my Rebuttal and final Research essays, for example, I drew examples from Frederick Douglass’ autobiography. This essay had to do with the life of an American Slave, but the connections to my discussion of Depression and the human mind were too obvious to ignore. This brought my entire project history, credibility, and an alternative perspective.

Core Value 2. My work demonstrates that I read critically, and that I placed texts into conversation with one another to create meaning by synthesizing ideas from various discourse communities. 

In previous courses, I am guilty of having been a lazy researcher. I would often write my essays without any statistical evidence included, and then at the very end add a sentence from a source that might help my cause. Rarely did I search thoroughly for information to use throughout my paper, and rarely did I even read the articles I quoted. Writing essays through the scope of three different lenses, however, helped me to find different but similar sources. I intended to find sources that followed some kind of order, meaning that one source would lead into the next. This way, my topics would coincide and my transitions would ultimately be smoother. I see this especially in my research essay, when I open up talking about African slaves and their experiences with music, and then using the musical therapy topic to push into another source which talks about the use of musical therapy in healing veterans.

Core Value 3. My work demonstrates that I rhetorically analyzed the purpose, audience, and contexts of my own writing and other texts and visual arguments.

I often go on tangents in my writing that can sometimes lead me somewhere good, and other times just waste characters. It is important to write with freedom. But to write with freedom and remain in context with what the essay is about is challenging. To write concisely without being afraid to write passionately is what this class has helped me understand. The best example in my writing that shows this process is in my definition essay. In my definition essay, I attempted to define Music as a drug, or means of healing. Throughout the essay, I break down definitions of medicine, disease, and therapy among others. After understanding their meanings, I continued to connect them and build the definition of Music as a drug.

Core Value 4: My work demonstrates that I have met the expectations of academic writing by locating, evaluating, and incorporating illustrations and evidence to support my own ideas and interpretations.

To say I researched this essay as thoroughly as is possible would be a lie. But within the semester, I managed. Using resources provided to me such as the library and the online catalog for scholarly articles, I was able to come up with enough material to link my papers and research paper together. Over the semester, I probably tried over 20 different sources. This comes with picking them out and then re-evaluating them at a later date. Sometimes the sources were not as relevant as they had been previously, because my topic may have altered, or because my stance may have changed. Overall, I believe I attempted to find scholarly evidence that successfully backs up my writing to the best of my ability. In my Annotated Bibliography assignment, a list of all my references are made, and my reasons for choosing these sources are clearly explained in detail.

Core Value 5. My work demonstrates that I respect my ethical responsibility to represent complex ideas fairly and to the sources of my information with appropriate citation. 

Academic dishonesty is something that has no place at Rowan, and even less so in the writing world. A writer’s word is all a writer has. Writing in itself is a practice that requires one to think independently and freely. The beauty of writing is that the writer’s voice gets to be heard. Because of this, passing someone else’s work off as your own is not only immoral, but disrespectful to the original writer. The amount of time I spent this semester researching material and constructing my final research paper is an amount of time I never want to spend again. And if I were to find out that somebody had taken my work without given me credit, it would definitely be offensive. In my research paper, I accompany every quote with the source it is from, and the name of the person who said it. Sometimes, I even used the block-quote technique to make my quotes more clear.

Rebuttal- rewrite- misterfries19

Music has always been an instinctive crutch for people to lean on. In the colonial 1800’s, we have written accounts of  African slaves joining together in song as they worked throughout the day. These songs would help the slaves deal with their pain by helping  pass the time, and giving them an actual physical release in the form of their voice. These songs also helped to spread a collective message of hope throughout the slave community. If the slaves are singing together, then they still have each other. Another example of music being used therapeutically can be seen in the US Military. When a soldier dies, the U.S. Military plays “Taps” at the soldier’s funeral. The song is played for every soldier as way to recognize them for their courage, as well as to distinguish them from any normal person. These were soldiers, and the song helps them to be remembered as such. Going even further, the US military actually hired musical therapists to perform for wounded soldiers recovering from injuries suffered in World War II. The therapists were a hit among the soldiers, and the practice became fairly common.

Of course, music is not the only known healing device in the world, nor is it the most commonly used. As science progresses, advancements in the medical field keep introducing themselves. Among them are new surgical techniques, new tools to use while in surgery, and new medicines. Another common medical practice is therapy. Therapy was once considered something closer to witchcraft than medicine. Ok, maybe not witchcraft, but it’s credibility was in question. However, over time, studies showed that it was indeed effective, and now it is accepted by Doctors as a valid medical practice. Therapy can include physical therapy, but types of therapy designed for the mind and emotion are more relevant to the discussion, such as Psychotherapy and Emotional Counseling. The acceptance of newfound therapeutic routes comes hand-in-hand with more attention being paid to a patient’s mental health, and not just their physical health. As a result, medicine has been designed specifically to treat patients with mental health related disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

According to Siddhartha Mukherjee of The New York Times, the FDA approved of the drug Prozac in 1988. It was created as an “anti-depressant,” which is pretty self explanatory. After it’s first year on the market, Prozac had filled 2,469,000 prescriptions. People were ecstatic about the results of Prozac. According to John Markowitz, a Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Florida, it was a hit because it was the safest anti-depressant on the market. Previous antidepressants were incredibly unpredictable. The drug was  hard to dose correctly, because it was extremely volatile, and side effects were hard to control. Patients were even overdosing from amounts of the drug that were previously thought non-lethal. Prozac is a much more controlled substance, however. Because of this, Prozac was seen as a safer route out of depression.

Prozac’s popularity continued to grow. Tony Soprano started using it on TV, and regular Americans considered it effective, and even life-changing for some. In the 1994 novel Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel talks about her positive experiences on the drug. Before trying prozac, Wurtzel was, by her own despcription, living in “a computer program of total negativity . . . an absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest.” After starting Prozac, however, she recalls miraculously waking up one morning and not feeling depressed anymore. Wurtzel states

 “One morning I woke up and really did want to live. . . . It was as if the miasma of depression had lifted off me, in the same way that the fog in San Francisco rises as the day wears on. Was it the Prozac? No doubt.”

By 2002, the number of Prozac prescriptions in the United States had risen to over 33 million. And by 2008, anti-depressants had become the 3rd most prescribed type of drug in America. This could be because of a lot of outside factors. In reality, the 2000’s were loaded with a lot of stress-inducing events. The attacks at 9/11 left a nation in shock and dismay, while also heightening our attention on the Middle East. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would not let up. And to make things worse, the collapse of the Housing Market in 2008 introduced the Recession. In the face of unprecedented societal issues, as well as the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, its reasonable to understand why more people were seeking prescription drugs like Prozac. 

After anti-depressant prescriptions had really hit their peak, people began to seriously question the drug’s abilities. Evaluating Prozac 20 years after the drug’s introduction can provide us with an ample amount of studies to take information from. With more people using anti-depressants than ever, it was also always more likely for new complaints and side-effects to be reported. The lack of progress in treating what it was prescribed for combined with newer drugs led to the downfall of Prozac. By the 2010’s, anti-depressant usage was even being discouraged by some doctors. Psychologist Irving Kirsch referred to anti-depressants as nothing more than sugar-pill placebos, not equipped to deal with the more complex psychological issues of individuals that may require much more than a pill to get a grip on what the problem really is.

Some doctors even began to start re-thinking the logic behind how anti-depressant’s work as a whole. Depression has always been thought to be caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain. As serotonin levels diminished, depression kicked in. Thus, drugs were created around the goal of producing more serotonin for the brain.

When doctor’s actually began looking at the serotonin levels in depressed patients, they saw that serotonin levels really were not that low. But the people being medicated were still depressed. Thus, the theory that depression relied strictly on serotonin levels was debunked.

Even more research showed that serotonin IS in fact a big part of determining mood, but only as an ingredient in the recipe. But, the drugs did improve our understanding of depression. So, although Prozac might not be the answer that so many people thought it was during the 1980’s, anti-depressants can still be used effectively.

Whats interesting now is finding out the other ingredients besides prescription medication that make up the Anti-Depression soup. If the drugs are not enough, then pursuing everything else is the only option. Like stated earlier, modern medicine has opened up different means of therapy to the world. Group-style counseling groups consisting of people undergoing similar hardships have been introduced. One-to-one therapy with a Psychologist can also be effective.

And then there is the use of music. Yes, music has actually been used to curb signs of depression. According to EverydayHealth.com, listening to music can help the body produce dopamine, which is a chemical that has to do with controlling behavior. Also, the rhythm of the songs helps to provide a rhythm for breathing, which can help control heartbeat and other bodily functions.

A study done by the British Journal of Psychiatry showed even more evidence of musical therapy being effective when treating patients with depression. In the study of 79 patients with depression, 46 of them received standard care, which included anti-depressants, psychotherapy sessions, and psychiatric counseling. the remaining 33 received the same treatment, as well as 20 different hour-long musical therapy sessions. The group that participated in the musical therapy reportedly showed lower rates of depression than the group who hadn’t, as well as more improvements in day-to-day functions.

So, is music the cure for depression? No, but neither are anti-depressants. Taking one or the other will not rid anybody of their depression. Nobody really knows what can. But, one thing is for sure: These are definitely two ingredients in the complex recipe that we are continuously improving upon to fight depression. As time and science move forward, we can only continue to try all resources at our disposal, and continue to see what improvements can be made in the coming future.

References

Borchard, Therese. “How Music Therapy Can Relieve Depression.” EverydayHealth.com, Everyday Health, 4 May 2017, http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/music-therapy-to-relieve-depression/.

Hatton, Randy C. “25 Years after Prozac.” Home, Pharmacist.com, 1 May 2013, http://www.pharmacist.com/25-years-after-prozac.

 

Mukherjee, Siddhartha. “Post-Prozac Nation.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Apr. 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/the-science-and-history-of-treating-depression.html.

Definition Rewrite- misterfries19

Earth is an unforgiving place to live. Over time, the world has chewed up and spit out almost every species it has come into contact with. No predator is too big, and no prey is too fast to avoid the certainty that time can bring them; extinction. Even humans will one day (Most likely) meet their demise. Humans have survived for a substantial amount of time on Earth, but they have also made this world their own. Cities and civilizations fueled by humans consuming the other subordinate species around them for energy. ?  Humans have been able to sustain themselves for as long as we can remember simply because of their pragmatism. The ability to take what the world gives you and still adapt has set us far apart from other species. When the cold sets in, animals that cannot adapt freeze to death. Humans have learned to create and maintain heat. We truly see our dominance take place in the medical field. Whereas injuries or diseases can be fatal to an animal, the human has developed medicine. Our unique ability to continually adapt to any situation leads to tiny increments that, over time, amount to gargantuan progress in the field of Medicine. 

The progress we have made in the field of medicine is not limited to the past 100 years or so, either. The earliest accounts of humans actually using medicine date back to the Old Testament, but it is possible they go even further. There is no known paper origin of medicine, but humans have been known to experiment with herbs and spices as remedies for different problems for thousands of years. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines Medicine as “a substance or preparation used in treating disease”. By the transitive property, we can assume that for something to be “medicinal”, there must be a disease at hand to fight.

But what is a disease? Words like Influenza, Polio, and Parkinson’s come to mind. Crippling illnesses associated with a weakened body. To treat or cure these diseases, medicine in the form of an injection, pill, or physical therapy can be applied to the situation. A disease can be defined as “a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms”. By this definition, something can be called medicinal if it is a substance or preparation used to fight any symptoms or signs that may show that something in the body is not functioning properly.

Like stated earlier, Doctors may now suggest to a patient the use of medicine to deal with a physical ailment, like a headache A headache should require no definition, but in my own words, it is physical pain in the head. So, what about psychiatric diseases and mental illnesses, such as PTSD or Anxiety? Although not particularly “headaches”, these illnesses effect the mind, so a comparison of how Doctors treat the two different diagnoses can be important in determining any similarities. In a 2012 report by U.S. Medicine, it was recorded that 141,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans were diagnosed with noncancer pain. 32% of them were diagnosed with PTSD. Of the 141,000, 11.7% were prescribed Opioids to deal with the pain. Among the pool of the 32% diagnosed with PTSD, 17.8% of the Veterans were prescribed opioids. In this instance, the PTSD, although considered mostly psychological and not physical, was categorized as a disease, because a substance was prescribed to treat the impairments it may bring on.

Besides the fact that Veterans with PTSD were getting prescription medication at very high rates, this study also shows that Doctors treated mental illnesses the same or similarly to how they deal with physical illnesses. This means that Doctors were in fact acknowledging these psychological dilemmas as medical problems. Now, the definition of Medicine defines it as a “substance or preparation”. Having focused on the substance, let us look at what a preparation implies. Alternative ways of healing other than ingesting a substance include things such as therapy, acupuncture, and meditation. In a 2014 article published by Julie Corliss of Harvard Health Publishing, the results of an extensive study conducted by John’s Hopkins Medical School could show a possible link between Meditation (a preparation) and a decrease in Anxiety (an illness). 19,000 meditation studies were sifted through until 47 unbiased studies could be evaluated for effectiveness by the school. The results of the 47 different studies showed that Meditation, although not a substance of any kind, can be used to lessen anxiety. This would allow us to define Meditation as being a form of medicine.

The fact that people are finding results through Meditation is absolutely groundbreaking. A practice that includes the ingestion of no substance, no movement, and no stimulation is actually yielding results. So, if Meditation (which includes doing nothing but thinking and breathing) can be considered medicinal, then what other preparations can be considered Medicinal? The APA (American Psychological Association) published a report in 2013 on the psychological effects of Music. In the article, a meta-analysis conducted by Dr. Daniel J. Levitin and Dr. Mona Lisa Chanda of McGill University in Montreal focused on 400 studies involving music and it’s health effects. The studies showed that Music can actually improve the body’s immune system and decrease stress levels. The same study showed that in patients preparing for a surgery, Music was more effective than prescription drugs at relieving pre-surgery stress levels. 

Studies have given the APA reason to endorse the use of Music when treating psychological illnesses or conditions, such as Anxiety and Depression. If these psychological conditions or illnesses cause impairments to the body or parts of the body that can be identified through signs or symptoms, then these psychological illnesses can be defined as being diseases. In conclusion, if these psychological illnesses or conditions can be defined as diseases, and if Music is endorsed as a helpful remedy that combats said diseases, then we can define Music as a form of Medicine, because it is a practice that helps fight disease.

 

References

Corliss, Julie. “Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Medical School, 3 Oct. 2017, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967.

Novetney, Amy. Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Nov. 2013, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx.

usmedicine.com. “More Opioid Prescriptions Adverse Effects for Vets With PTSD.” U.S. Medicine, U.S. Medicine, 21 Apr. 2015, http://www.usmedicine.com/agencies/department-of-veterans-affairs/more-opioid-prescriptions-adverse-effects-for-vets-with-ptsd/.

“Medicine.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/medicine.

“Disease.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disease.

Research- misterfries19

Don’t Worry: Be Happy

A human life is made up entirely by the choices made by the human as time progresses. The choices people make today will always effect the choices they make tomorrow, and there is nothing that can be done to change this fact. Everybody control’s his or her destiny, to an extent. The extent to which we have this control is obviously influenced by other parts of life, such as hardships, and pain. So, life is in the hands of the liver, but there will be roadblocks along the way. Things such as war, disease, and death heavily effect everybody’s lives, sometimes leaving us disillusioned and filled with pain. The big challenge in life then is to live a life pain free. Or, to at least be able to deal with the pain that comes towards us and continue moving on with life.

If you plan on living a life without pain, good luck. I can’t say it’s impossible, but I certainly wouldn’t expect it to be a reality. If you wish to find ways to deal with your pain, then you’re in luck. So is everybody else. Pain is a complex idea in itself, because it can be cause by both physical and emotional injuries. If someone breaks their leg, they are of course going to experience physical pain as a result. Ultimately, the leg will heal, and the pain will recede. Emotional pain is something far more complex. Emotional pain can also be a result of a physical injury, but it can also be caused by things such as bad news, sickness, or having to observe somebody else’s pain. For example, say that instead of breaking a leg, that person had a leg amputated. Instead of healing in a few months, that person now has to deal with one leg for the rest of their life. Simple tasks like walking and exercising are now no longer possible without assistance of some kind. The stigma surrounding being someone with a handicap can lead to that person being very self-conscious, and high levels of anxiety. The physical pain felt from the injury may have stopped, but the damage it leaves behind torments the mind of the person amputated.

Learning how to deal with emotional pain can take a long time, and it can be challenging. The hopelessness can lead to severe cases of social anxiety, or even depression. Nowadays, we have things such as therapy, and anti-depressant medication, which are different techniques that we have created to help deal with emotional trauma. But, before these things were available, people had to get very creative in dealing with their emotional trauma.

In American history, no other faction of people have been on the receiving end of torment and discrimination quite like the African American slave in the 1800’s. For context, Africans were enslaved and brought to the early American colonies by wealthy European settlers between the 1500’s and the 1800’s. For around 300 years, black people were considered property, and forced to work on the farms of rich white men in inhumane living conditions. Slaves were malnourished, sleep deprived, and beaten regularly. These conditions left their bodies in pain, and left their minds hopeless. The pain with having to deal with always being a servant is one that I can never begin to comprehend.

Spoiler alert; African American people still exist. The abomination of an idea that is slavery was tossed out the window sometime ago, and nowadays, every American has equal rights. This means one thing in the context of this paper: Slaves overcame their pain and trauma. But, without proper medical attention and any help from those around them, how did slaves manage to keep on keeping on?

Possibly the best first-hand retelling of the day to day life of a slave comes from the autobiographical novel Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass. Early in the novel, Douglass talks about how Masters would gauge whether or not their slaves were happy. A happy slave was a singing slave, as Douglass explained. If the slaves were all singing, then they were happy working. Douglass refutes this claim, stating that obviously slaves never enjoyed their work. But, they did sing songs. Douglass talks about how the songs had a deeper, double meaning. Slaves sang together to show each other strength in an effort to maintain hope. By singing the songs together, they show that they are still alive and have each other. But, the songs were also sang in an effort to deal with the pain of their surroundings. Singing passed the time, and allowed for emotional expression in a world that allowed the slave almost none of that. One particular hymn goes like this:

“I am going to the Great House Farm. Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” 

This hymn would be repeated by slaves on their daily walk to an actual big farm they had to work on. However, the lyrics are a metaphor. The “Great House Farm” represents heaven, or death. The sadness they had within allowed them to sing hopelessly about their eventual death. The possibility that they may one day be free in a place greater than they are now allowed them to sing with hope.

The power of music as a form of healing has long been disputed, since before slavery even. In EverydayHealth.com’s article How Musical Therapy Can Relieve Depression, Theresa Borchard talks about how manic patients were treated by listening to the relaxing sound of the flute. In 600 BC, the music of Thales was said to cure a plague that had recently broken out.

In modern medicine, music therapy was introduced popularly after World War II. US Veterans were returning home from a gruesome war that left them scarred physically and emotionally. Soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were visited by musicians and performers, who would play songs and sets in an effort to improve the wounded soldier’s overall mood. The veterans quite liked this idea, and its popularity grew. Soon after, in 1950, the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was formed. The AMTA taught musicians how to tailor their performances to be therapeutic, and official Musical Therapists were certified.

It seems stupid to believe that listening to a song can actually have health benefits. Listening to music is usually described as a leisurely activity, but it is really a complimentary activity. We may workout, study, eat, or even sleep while listening to music. Understanding what happens to our body while we listen to music can help us see how it effects us physically. When we listen to music, our body re-calibrates to the rhythm of the song without us even realizing. The rhythm provides a blueprint for our body to follow, and as a result, we may end up tapping our feet, or even singing the song. The calmness of the beat of the song eases our nervous system, and allows for our heart rate to become more even, and our breathing to find it’s own rhythm. When both the heart rate and breathing rates are under control, anxiety and stress can be relieved and controlled.

Of course, music having this effect did not and should not have halted our continued development of medicine. As more emphasis was placed on mental health, Doctors and Pharmaceutical companies began to develop new means of therapy and treatment. The earliest prescription medications to be used for anti-depression related symptoms were types of Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA’s) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MOA’s). These drugs were obviously new, and as a result, they were not perfect. These medicines were unpredictable at times, with many patients suffering from side effects and some even overdosing. The need for improvement presented a huge economic opportunity for big pharmaceutical companies.

Enter Prozac. In 1988, Prozac was approved as the first ever serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and hit the market. Prozac was designed to serve as a safer anti-depressant, without the kinks that came with previous medications. It didn’t take long for Prozac to become very popular. According to the New York Times article Post-Prozac Nation, written by Siddhartha Mukherjee;

“In 1988, a year after the Food and Drug Administration approved Prozac, 2,469,000 prescriptions for it were dispensed in America. By 2002, that number had risen to 33,320,000. By 2008, antidepressants were the third-most-common prescription drug taken in America.”

Prozac’s incredible rise to fame saw people conclude that it was some kind of miracle drug. Rave reviews about the drugs effectiveness combined with the reduced risk of side effects allowed for it to become very mainstream. In an article done by the American Public Health Association (APHA), John Markowitz (Professor of Pharmacy, University of Florida) stated:

“Its ease in dosing and lack of lethality in overdose made [fluoxetine] much more desirable compared to tricyclic antidepressants [TCAs] and monoamine oxidase inhibitors [MAOIs] that dominated before Prozac.” 

Non-pharmacists can get lost in the vernacular of the medical field, so it is important to understand just what a Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor is and how it works. Prozac was designed to counteract a lack of Serotonin in neurotransmitters. The brains of people with depression showed a blockage or shortage of serotonin, which slowed down and stopped neurotransmitters. By boosting serotonin levels, the transmitters may begin working again and depression may subside.

As discussed earlier, time and life are the best teachers. The Prozac craze has died down, with some medical professionals even claiming that Prozac was simply a placebo. 30 years have passed, and the hypothesis that low amounts of Serotonin caused depression is all but thrown out the window. Pharmacists may have succeeded in creating a safer anti-depressant, but the effectiveness is in question. What Prozac did do, however, was help us to learn more about Serotonin and how it effects us. Serotonin certainly plays a role in our general mood and emotions, but the idea that depleted levels of the Serotonin may lead to depression is most likely inaccurate.

Furthermore, Doctors began to prescribe Opioids to deal with symptoms of depression. Opioids are drugs that effect the nervous system by blocking sensations of pain in an effort to feel better. This is where the term “painkillers” comes from. People dealing with physical pain typically use prescription opioids, and it is effective in numbing the temporary pain. For those dealing with emotional trauma, there is no essential area of pain to  numb, so the painkiller creates feelings of pleasure. Because the emotional pain returns when the opioids wear off, the pills can become addictive.

According to Stephen Spotswood of U.S. Medicine, a recent VA study showed that of the 141,000 veterans to return from conflict in the Middle East reporting non-cancer pain, 32% of the population was diagnosed with PTSD. Of the 141,000, roughly 11% were prescribed opioids. Separating between those with PTSD and those without, 17.8% of the 32% of patients with the illnesses were prescribed opioids, as opposed to 6% of patients prescribed without PTSD. Furthermore, of veterans with PTSD and a history of drug abuse, a whopping 33% of this population received opioid prescriptions. Veterans with PTSD were also shown to be more likely to take higher doses of opioids, as well as return for a refill. These statistics show how easy it is for somebody with PTSD to be prescribed opioids, as well as showing us how much more often those with PTSD are prescribed opioids in comparison to others. They also show us that Veterans with PTSD are more likely to use and abuse opioids than those without.

Considering the fact that no pill has been able to cure depression yet (so far), and the likely possibility that we are far from seeing one do so anytime soon, different techniques have been created to help deal with mental illnesses. Mental illnesses such as Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD pertain to the mind, and as science has shown, not necessarily the brain. The human mind is as complex to talk about as it is to treat, considering it is not a physical part of the body. These ailments are actually a result of emotional trauma, brought on by the reaction our mind has to the trauma. For instance, take a Veteran suffering from PTSD. There is no drug that can safely wipe away the veteran’s memory of his or her fellow soldiers dying in a car bombing. How can someone cure a memory? Because things like depression and PTSD are more complex and are not cured by an anti-depressant pill, Doctors had to get far more creative.

The other alternative to medication would be different forms of therapy. Therapy is a pretty ambiguous term. We already discussed musical therapy. But, emotional counseling has also been used to treat mental health disorders. Similarly to music, the body responds to engagement. When in therapy, Psychiatrists are trained to let the patient lead the discussion, but to engage them regularly and push them down whatever path they may be taking the discussion. This constant interaction without judgement gives the patient’s brain the message to continue making connections without holding back. The lack of judgement allows for the patient to say what he or she needs to say without feeling self-conscious or anxious. This is a healthy way for the therapist to learn more about their patient, as well as their patient to confront their troubles and learn more about themselves.

Emotional therapy remains highly recommended by Doctors for patients dealing with depression. Although they acknowledge that it won’t “cure” anything, it can help patients better understand why they feel the way they do, and teach them to control the triggers that cause anxiety. Doctors suggest treating depression with a combination of therapy and medication for strongest results.

With prescription medication  and methods of therapy always improving but never quite figuring out depression, it is logical for people to seek other processes, such as Musical Therapy. Many people already deal with day to day struggles by listening to music, so the concept is not far-fetched. With biological evidence that music can soothe our nervous system and reduce levels of anxiety, there is no reason why it cannot at least be attempted, at least in addition to other forms of therapy.

In an effort to see the effects of Musical Therapy coupled with other means of therapy, the British Journal of Psychiatrist conducted a study focused on 79 patients who had depression. All of the patients received standard care, which included Psychotherapy, Counseling, and Antidepressants. However, 33 of the patients also went to weekly musical therapy sessions, while the other 46 did not. After three months, the 33 who participated in the musical therapy as well as the standard therapy showed much more improvement in their Depression, as well as their everyday functions, compared to the 46 who did not receive musical therapy. The study concluded that Musical Therapy can in fact be beneficial when fighting depression, if coupled with other forms of care.

By this point, it’s pretty hard to say when and if mental illnesses such as Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD can even be cured. Medicine is constantly improving, but like with Prozac, it takes time to see if something has really been effective. And even then, failures only help to build up future successes. When professionals began to realize that Prozac wasn’t doing what it was believed it would do, they at least discovered that Serotonin does in fact play a role in our mood and function. But depleted serotonin levels are not the root of depression. So yes, medication is useful, but it has yet to be concrete. Psychiatric therapy and emotional counseling can be very effective in combatting mental illness as well, as it allows for us to dive into our trauma and face it head on with the help of a professional. But therapy is not something that takes up a regular part of a schedule. Once the patient leaves the therapist’s office, they are back out on their own. They have knowledge gained from their appointment, and hopefully feel better after leaving, but they are still vulnerable to the effects of everyday life yet again. Music, however, is something that is at our disposal almost all the time. It is a part of our everyday life, and something that our bodies and minds have relied on for as long as we can remember. The research showing a positive relationship between listening to music and the human nervous system makes me wonder to what extent we have relied on music for all this time. Honestly, do we really even know how important sound can be to our health if it has always had these subtle effects?

Mental health is not something to take lightly. It is a topic that should be handled gently and with the utmost sincerity. That is why it is important to seek help if help is needed. Everybody has problems to deal with, and there are loads of different ways to deal with these problems. However, with no one specific technique presenting itself as a definitive answer to mental health problems, it is important to try all resources. I have faith in Medicine. I am open to whatever improvements we make upon medicine in the future. But there is a long way to go. Taking into account doubts over the effectiveness of anti-depressants as well as statistics that show that the use of said drugs can lead to abuse and addiction, the use of Musical therapy as a compliment to other forms of therapy can prove to be a safer and equally effective alternative.

References

Corliss, Julie. “Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, 3 Oct. 2017, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967.

Novetney, Amy. American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Nov. 2013, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx.

usmedicine.com. “More Opioid Prescriptions Adverse Effects for Vets With PTSD.” U.S. Medicine, 20 Apr. 2015, http://www.usmedicine.com/agencies/department-of-veterans-affairs/more-opioid-prescriptions-adverse-effects-for-vets-with-ptsd/.

Douglass, Frederick, and Celeste-Marie Bernier. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Broadview Press, 2018.

Borchard, Therese. “How Music Therapy Can Relieve Depression.” Stroke Center – EverydayHealth.com, Ziff Davis, LLC, 4 May 2017, http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/music-therapy-to-relieve-depression/.

Brookshire, Bethany. “Search.” Science News for Students, http://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/explainer-what-dopamine.

Erkkilä, Jaakko, et al. “Individual Music Therapy for Depression: Randomised Controlled Trial | The British Journal of Psychiatry.” Cambridge Core, Cambridge University Press, 2 Jan. 2018, http://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/individual-music-therapy-for-depression-randomised-controlled-trial/A1CD72904929CECCB956F4F3B09605AF.

Hatton, Randy C. “25 Years after Prozac.” Home, Pharmacist.com, 1 May 2013, http://www.pharmacist.com/25-years-after-prozac.

Mukherjee, Siddhartha. “Post-Prozac Nation.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Apr. 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/the-science-and-history-of-treating-depression.html.

Vestal, Christine. “Teen Xanax Abuse Is Surging.” The Pew Charitable Trusts, PEW, 24 Aug. 2018, http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/08/24/teen-xanax-abuse-is-surging.

Annotated Bibliography- Misterfries

  1. Corliss, Julie. “Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, 3 Oct. 2017, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967.

Background: Julie Corliss of Harvard Health Publishing opens up this article with a brief anecdote about her mother, who is an active believer in the power of meditation. Even at the age of 81, her mother still attends a weekly meditation group, and stresses the importance of living for the moment; not worrying about past troubles or worries of the future. The article shifts into a discussion about the acceptance of meditation by doctors as a means of healing. Further acknowledging that calculating the effectiveness of meditation can be challenging due to biases among those who are open to meditation and those who are not, Corliss is able to establish credibility. But, she then cites a diligent study done at Johns Hopkins in which 19,000 studies were evaluated, with only 47 study groups meeting the requirements for the study. In these 47 groups, the results showed that meditation can definitely have positive effects on things such as depression, anxiety, and pain.

Why its important: This article provides a background on the practice of meditation, which is another alternative form of healing to prescription medication. I decided to use this source because it cites a study that was extremely carefully examined for any biases or irregularities, so the results should be conclusive. The results of the study can help me build a claim for my article by giving me evidence of meditation being effective.

2. Novetney, Amy. American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Nov. 2013, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx.

Background: This article from the American Psychological Association discusses music and its applications in medicine. The article discusses how although music had previously been used as a means of calming psychological health problems, it is now being used more and more as a means of reducing physical pain and improving body functions as well. The article talks about how listening to music and tuning into the rhythm can help us keep a steady heart rate, which keeps down stress and helps our immune system. The article then cites a study done on patients receiving IV’s, in which some of the patients would listen to music as the IV is inserted, and some did not. The results showed that the patients listening to music felt less pain in the procedure, and showed lower levels of stress.

Why it’s important: This article talks about the overwhelming positives that come with using music medically. By providing examples of music improving physical and psychological functions, the article adds credibility to my paper. In my attempt to show music as a better alternative to prescription medication when dealing with mental health problems, this article will be vital.

3. usmedicine.com. “More Opioid Prescriptions Adverse Effects for Vets With PTSD.” U.S. Medicine, 20 Apr. 2015, http://www.usmedicine.com/agencies/department-of-veterans-affairs/more-opioid-prescriptions-adverse-effects-for-vets-with-ptsd/.

Background: This article from USMedicine.com opens up with a study that shows how Veterans returning from battle are much more inclined to be prescribed prescription drugs by a physician. Furthermore, those Veterans showing symptoms of PTSD who were prescribed drugs were far more likely to develop adverse or negative side effects from the medication. The article then talks about how the rate of prescriptions being used in veterans with PTSD was higher than the rate of those without PTSD. And, among the amount of patients with PTSD that were also battling drug abuse, the rate of prescriptions being handed out was the highest, sitting at about 1/3 of that group. Going even further, veterans with PTSD symptoms were more likely to take higher doses of medication than those without the symptoms, and they were more likely to request a refill earlier.

Why it’s important: This study shows a specific group of individuals suffering from a specific mental illness brought on by time at War. Veterans have had to experience a lot of physical and emotional trauma, meaning they are more susceptible to mental health illnesses and are very important to study. In this study, we learn that veterans receive prescriptions more easily than other people, and those veterans with PTSD are refilling and reusing the prescription at a faster rate. Ultimately, what the study shows is that as veterans with PTSD were prescribed anti-depressants, the frequency with which they used the drugs increased, with little actual improvement. This shows a growing dependency on the medication, that may have caused the increase in use itself.

4. Douglass, Frederick, and Celeste-Marie Bernier. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Broadview Press, 2018.

Background: Frederick Douglass’ autobiographical recount of his days gives the reader an insight into the mind of an American slave in the 1800’s. African Americans were inhumanely enslaved by white settlers in the US, and suffered never-ending punishment and brutality. The story basically talks about Douglass’ ups and downs during his days as a slave, and his journey to freedom. One particular anecdote in the beginning talks about how a slave’s master would know if his slaves were happy or not. If the slaves were singing, they were deemed happy. Douglass, however, explains that slaves often sang songs to deal with their pain and to uplift those around them. The unity they felt in song would give them hope to carry on.

Why its important: The American slave was subject to some of the most brutal treatment in the history of this world. Treated as less than human, and dealing with illness and hunger everyday, life was a painful reality. Although we don’t have medical records, Douglass’ novel shows that slaves definitely suffered from symptoms of depression and anxiety. With  no signs of hope, the novel shows that they found strength in music. When singing, they were suffering, but they were together. They maintained hope. These early examples can be used as an introduction into my position paper.

5.Borchard, Therese. “How Music Therapy Can Relieve Depression.” Stroke Center – EverydayHealth.com, Ziff Davis, LLC, 4 May 2017, http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/music-therapy-to-relieve-depression/.

Background: Theresa Borchard discusses the history of musical therapy and how it grew to become an accepted alternative to other forms of treatment. Borchard mentions the earliest beginnings of the practice, dating all the way back to ancient Greece. Moving forward to more modern examples, Borchard discusses the introduction of musical therapy to veterans suffering from PTSD and depression after WWII. Hospitals would employ live musicians to perform for veterans recovering, because it would ease tension and help the patient’s mood. This became so popular, that in 1950, the NAMT was founded. The National Association for Musical Therapy certified actual Musical Therapists, and provided a blueprint for the practice. Borchard then shows evidence of a study that suggests musical therapy combined with other treatments is more effective than those treatments without the musical therapy.

Why its important: Borchard gives a basic timeline that demonstrates Musical Therapy has been practiced for quite some time. The history of musical therapy is important to be discussed because it shows the evolution of the practice over time, as well as giving us credible examples in which it was useful. It is also important to note that Borchard introduces the idea of musical therapy as a compliment to additional therapy, which is likely where I am headed with my position.

6. Brookshire, Bethany. “Search.” Science News for Students, http://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/explainer-what-dopamine.

Background: Bethany Brookshire gives a crash course on the substance Dopamine, and how it works within our body. Dopamine is something our body releases when our brain makes connections between neuro-transmitters. The dopamine is a signal by our body that whatever caused the connection is good. Dopamine acts as a reward-based feeling by our body in this regard. Certain drugs, such as stimulants, can make the brain release large quantities of dopamine, which as a result gets the person taking the drugs high.

Why its important: If I am going to make a case against the promotion of prescription drugs when treating mental illness, then I have to understand how the drug works, and why I am making the stance. Prescription pills can release serious quantities of dopamine, which can give patients with mental health problems a temporary high. The high, followed by depleted dopamine levels, will increase the likelihood that the patient attempts to find the high again. The continuous want to get high and the growing tolerance to the high can cause patients to seek harder drugs. In essence, this source can be used to help me argue that treating prescription drugs with pills can possibly lead to addiction and more depression.

7. Erkkilä, Jaakko, et al. “Individual Music Therapy for Depression: Randomised Controlled Trial | The British Journal of Psychiatry.” Cambridge Core, Cambridge University Press, 2 Jan. 2018, http://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/individual-music-therapy-for-depression-randomised-controlled-trial/A1CD72904929CECCB956F4F3B09605AF.

Background: This was a thorough study conducted by the British Journal for Psychiatry with the goal to determine with musical therapy was reliable treatment for people with depression-like symptoms. Two separate groups of subjects showing symptoms of depression were given multiple forms of therapy, but one group received musical therapy in addiction to the other forms. After 6 months of treatment, results showed lower levels of depression in the group that received musical treatment.

Why its important: The study focused on the combination of multiple kinds of therapy and musical therapy help me to construct an organized stance on my paper. More evidence showing positive results when used together only help my position that musical therapy should be used in addition to psychiatric therapy and prescription medication.

8. Hatton, Randy C. “25 Years after Prozac.” Home, Pharmacist.com, 1 May 2013, http://www.pharmacist.com/25-years-after-prozac.

Background: This article done by the American Pharmacists Association looks at the history of Prozac in hindsight. Beginning with a brief discussion of the introduction of Prozac in the 80’s, the article moves on to talk about it’s mainstream popularity and longterm results. Prozac was approved in the 80’s as a much safer form of anti-depressant. Older medicines left you susceptible to many side effects. Because of this, Prozac took off and was hailed as a super drug. Over time, drugs improved, and Prozac usage dropped. By the 2000’s, many questioned the effectiveness of the drug.

Why its important: Prozac was one of the first huge mainstream antidepressants, and it caught on really fast. A whole generation of depressed people were taking the pill, with some claiming marvelous results. The huge popularity of the drug can show both society’s proneness to the placebo effect, as well as show our tendency to trust prescription medication. By discussing the boom in Prozac and it’s slow descent back to Earth, I can advise the reader to be cautious when forming opinions on certain drugs or therapies, because time can show that we don’t know what works for a long time.

9. Mukherjee, Siddhartha. “Post-Prozac Nation.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Apr. 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/the-science-and-history-of-treating-depression.html.

Background: Siddhartha Mukherjee discusses Prozac in this New York Time’s article. Similarly to the previous article, Mukherjee emphasizes the phenomenon that was Prozac’s arrival. People were going crazy for the drug. 30 years later, and Doctors were now of the opinion that Prozac might not even work at all. In fact, it may be increasing depression. Prozac works to increase serotonin levels (or so we thought). Later studies show that it actually diminishes serotonin levels.

Why its important: This study further points to a lack of complete understanding of medicine and its effects. Prozac was once hailed as a super drug, but has since been debunked. This can challenge the credibility of prescription drugs as a whole, and point to safer forms of therapy that do not include pills.

10. Vestal, Christine. “Teen Xanax Abuse Is Surging.” The Pew Charitable Trusts, PEW, 24 Aug. 2018, http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/08/24/teen-xanax-abuse-is-surging.

Background: Christine Vestal opens up a discussion about a newer prescription drug that has become the center of use and abuse; Xanax. Christine discusses how 70% of adolescents will try an illicit drug by the age of 13, with a further 27% likely to try one after the age of 17. However, drug rates in adolescents are generally down. Since the 70’s, kids are less likely to use drugs now than they were then. However, even so, Xanax usage has spiked within the last few years. Although it has not shown up in studies or data yet, Doctors have noticed a huge increase in Xanax prescriptions and usage.

Why its important: This article is particularly interesting because it makes an assertion with no statistics to back the claim up. The claim that Xanax usage is increasing is backed up strictly by the opinions of Doctors and Pharmacists around the drug everyday. This may not show proof (yet) but it does show something even more powerful: genuine concern. By showing a more recent example of a prescription drug that has gotten popular and coupling it with the opinions of professionals, we can hopefully receive some kind of response or call to action by the reader going forward.

 

Rebuttal- misterfries19

Throughout time, people have commonly used music as a healing device. African slaves would sing songs while working in the southern heat. When a soldier dies, the U.S. Military plays “Taps” at the soldier’s funeral. After World War 2, soldiers recovering from injuries or trauma found relief from their pain thanks to musicians who would come and perform in hospitals.

Of course, music is not the only known healing device in the world, nor is it the most commonly used. As science progresses, advancements in the medical field keep introducing themselves. Among them are new surgical techniques, new tools to use while in surgery, and new medicines. Another common medical practice that has nowadays been de-stigmatized is therapy. This includes physical therapy, but emphasizes practices designed for the mind and emotion, such as Psychotherapy and Emotional Counseling. The acceptance of newfound therapeutic routes comes hand-in-hand with more attention being paid to a patient’s mental health, and not just their physical health. As a result, medicine has been designed specifically to treat patients with mental health related disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

According to Siddhartha Mukherjee of The New York Times, the FDA approved of the drug Prozac in 1988. It was created as an “anti-depressant,” which is pretty self explanatory. After it’s first year on the market, Prozac had filled 2,469,000 prescriptions. People were ecstatic about the results of Prozac. According to John Markowitz, a Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Florida, it was a hit because it was the safest anti-depressant on the market. Previous antidepressants were hard to correctly dose, and dangerous if you happened to go over your dosage. Prozac is a much more controlled substance, however. Because of this, Prozac was seen as a safer route out of depression.

Prozac’s popularity continued to grow. Tony Soprano started using it on TV, and regular Americans considered it effective, and even life-changing for some. In the 1994 novel Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel talks about her positive experiences on the drug. Before trying prozac, Wurtzel was, by her own despcription, living in “a computer program of total negativity . . . an absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest.” After starting Prozac, however, she recalls miraculously waking up one morning and not feeling depressed anymore. Wurtzel states

 “One morning I woke up and really did want to live. . . . It was as if the miasma of depression had lifted off me, in the same way that the fog in San Francisco rises as the day wears on. Was it the Prozac? No doubt.”

By 2002, the number of Prozac prescriptions in the United States had risen to over 33 million. And by 2008, anti-depressants had become the 3rd most prescribed type of drug in America. This could be because of a lot of outside factors. In reality, the 2000’s were loaded with a lot of stress-inducing events. The attacks at 9/11 left a nation in shock and dismay, while also heightening our attention on the Middle East. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would not let up. And to make things worse, the collapse of the Housing Market in 2008 introduced the Recession. It is no wonder that Americans were being prescribed more anti-depressants.

After anti-depressant prescriptions had really hit their peak, people began to seriously question the drug’s abilities. With more people using anti-depressants than ever, it was always more likely for new complaints and side-effects to be reported. By the 2010’s, anti-depressant usage was being discouraged by some doctors. Psychologist Irving Kirsch referred to anti-depressants as nothing more than sugar-pill placebos, not equipped to deal with the more complex psychological issues of individuals that may require much more than a pill to get a grip on what the problem really is.

Some doctors began to start re-thinking the logic behind how anti-depressant’s work as a whole. Depression has always been thought to be caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain. As serotonin levels diminished, depression kicked in. Thus, drugs were created around the goal of producing more serotonin for the brain.

When doctor’s actually began looking at the serotonin levels in depressed patients, they saw that serotonin levels really were not that low. But the people were still depressed. Thus, the theory that depression relied strictly on serotonin levels was debunked.

Even more research showed that serotonin WAS in fact a big part of determining mood, but it was only an ingredient in the recipe. But, the drugs did improve our understanding of depression. So, although Prozac might not be the answer that the 1980’s thought it was, anti-depressants can still be used effectively.

So, what are the other ingredients of this anti-depression recipe? If the drugs are not enough, what should be done? Like stated earlier, modern medicine has opened up different means of therapy to the world. Group-style counseling groups consisting of people undergoing similar hardships have been introduced. One-to-one therapy with a Psychologist can also be effective.

And then there is the use of Music. Music can also be a tool in treating depression. How? According to EverydayHealth.com, listening to music can help the body produce dopamine, which is a chemical that has to do with controlling behavior. Also, the rhythm of the songs helps to provide a rhythm for breathing, which can help control heartbeat and other bodily functions.

A study done by the British Journal of Psychiatry showed even more evidence of musical therapy being effective. In the study of 79 patients with depression, 46 of them received standard care, which included anti-depressants, psychotherapy sessions, and psychiatric counseling. the remaining 33 received the same treatment, as well as 20 different hour-long musical therapy sessions. The group that participated in the musical therapy reportedly showed lower rates of depression than the group who hadn’t, as well as more improvements in day-to-day functions.

So, is music the answer? No. But neither are anti-depressants. Taking one or the other will not rid anybody of their depression. Does anybody really know what will? No. But, one thing is for sure: These are definitely two ingredients in the complex recipe that we are continuously improving upon to fight depression. As time and science move forward, we can only continue to try all resources at our disposal, and continue to see what improvements can be made in the coming future.

References

Borchard, Therese. “How Music Therapy Can Relieve Depression.” EverydayHealth.com, Everyday Health, 4 May 2017, http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/music-therapy-to-relieve-depression/.

Hatton, Randy C. “25 Years after Prozac.” Home, Pharmacist.com, 1 May 2013, http://www.pharmacist.com/25-years-after-prozac.

 

Mukherjee, Siddhartha. “Post-Prozac Nation.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Apr. 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/the-science-and-history-of-treating-depression.html.