Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Science, Technology and Society Program


James R. Fleming

Second Advisor

Teresa J. Arendell


The United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of depression, a condition the modern biomedical model of psychiatry categorizes as a mood disorder. The discovery and continued development of antidepressant drugs solidified the understanding of depression as a biological disorder and changed the way modern psychiatry approached the treatment of depression. They are now the most commonly prescribed type of drug on the market, although the efficacy and safety of antidepressants remain questionable. The widespread proliferation of these drugs is in large part due to the economic interests, government regulation, and marketing techniques of the pharmaceutical industry. This technology and all the forces supporting its use reduce a complex problem to a matter of biochemical imbalances, subject patients to potentially dangerous side effects, and raise the possibility of cosmetic psychopharmacology. As a result, society should reassess its relationship with antidepressants by revising the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the development and distribution of antidepressants and adopting a bio-psycho-social model of depression.


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


antidepressants, mental health, depression, psychiatry

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