You know, I was just discussing this with a friend the other day. Of course, I wasn’t speaking in the context of the 70s (seeing as I was . . . oh, negative 16 then), but just in the general observations I’ve made with those my age that I interact with.
A lil’ anecdote- a while back I was sitting in a study/break room with a bunch of my class mates (@ university). They were all in a circle and discussing what medicatications they are all on. One was on this for depression, the next was on that same thing, but then taking two other things for this and that. It was amazing to me. This was a group of 10-15 of the university’s smartest kids (I was in the Honors Lounge) and yet there wasn’t a single one that wasn’t on at least ONE mind altering medication.
The they all turned to me and said, “Angel, you’re so upbeat, perky, and happy all the time- what are you taking? I want to try it.” I was taken aback. Just because my normal state is something other than foot-draggingly depressed, I must be on something? And when I told them that I don’t take anything besides a multivitman, they honest to God didn’t believe me.
Now, don’t get me wrong- I know for a fact that there are people out there who benefit greatly from medications for depression and various other psychological impairments. That said, my WAG is that there is a huuuuuuge valley between those that actually need it and those that are taking it to get through the life they’ve created for themselves. It’s like Jim who works 85 hours a week, 7 days a week, and doesn’t ever sleep popping a Xanax to get through his shitty life. He doesn’t need a pill, he needs a day off. The same goes for the soccer mom in the suburbs who’s freaking out because she’s attempting to keep up with the Jones’. The problem is then that the people who don’t really need it aren’t solving their problems and are staying depressed. I think that accounts for what the OP is talking about.
Interestingly, I’ve never actually been Depressed (with a big D) like it seems many people are. I’ve been sad, sure, but never I can’t get out of bed because I’m so upset depressed. Whenever I am upset or things aren’t going my way, I just remind myself that stuff has to be bad for me to appreciate the good. It’s cheesy, but it works for me. Now, when I try telling my drugged up friends this, they reply with something like, “Well, sure, that works for you but MY life just doesn’t work like that. I’ve got a million things to do and I just can’t do them right. I’ve got to work for 7 hours today then go to class for 5 then do 15 things of homework.” Jesus H, man. Put down the Xanax and take a damn nap.