A few weeks ago I ran into a friend I hadn't seen for about a decade. I wasn't having a particularly good day and when my reaction to this re-acquaintance was less positive than hers, I was asked the unanswerable question, "What's the matter?" I gave the standard response. "Nothing, just having a bad day." Then I was informed, for the first time in my life, that "there are things that can take care of that." Quite intrigued by this response I ask the inevitable, "What things?" Her response was one that I should have expected. "Pharmaceuticals!" Our conversation continued for quite some time and concluded with me agreeing to convince my doctor to give me a (short-term) prescription of Paxil. It seems that because of the successful marketing of pharmaceuticals, patients are now going into doctor's offices demanding specific drugs, but that's another story, this one is about Paxil.

Paxil is the only drug available to control Generalized Anxiety Disorder. GAD, using the pharmaceutical lingo, is a disease for people with social anxiety disorder, SAD. Social anxiety disorder is a disease caused by too much seratonin reuptake. Some seratonin reuptake problems are associated with people who are introverted (people who like to be left alone). So there we have it. No longer is it normal to want to be left alone. Being alone = anti-social and anti-social = anti-community and anti-community = sickness. While much has been written about the lack of community in the developed world, supposedly caused by television, I didn't realize that pharmaceuticals had developed a cure for it. Kudos to them!

I started to get a little scared about my agreement and decided to find out a little more about SAD and Paxil. Did I have it (SAD)? Did I need it (Paxil)?


To my astonishment, I did suffer from SAD. I had just about all the symptoms and you probably do too.

Q: Am I bothered by blushing in front of people: Yup.

Q: Talking to strangers scares me: Sure, I live in New York City.

Q: I avoid talking to people I don't know: Ditto.

Q: I am afraid of doing things when people are watching: Of course. It's kind of creepy.

Q: Trembling or shaking in front of others is distressing to me: Can't disagree with that.

Q: Being embarrassed or looking foolish are among my worst fears: Hell yeah.

These are just a few of the 17 questions you must answer before receiving a personalized diagnosis. Sure enough, I had it. And it was much worse than I could imagine.


So how would Paxil help me overcome this computer-diagnosed disease that, until only a few days ago, I didn't even know I had? Remember the seratonin that I mentioned before? Well it's as easy as stopping that nasty stuff from polluting my brain. I figured, hell, how bad could it be to mess with my neurotransmitters. My life has been on hold for too long!! I didn't need any expensive tests to diagnose and treat me. GlaxoSmithKline can do that for me. All I need to do is sell the idea to my doctor, and I figure if I'm really introverted when I see him, he'll give me the prescription and for prescribing the drug get his free dinner from GlaxoSmithKline. Yeah baby. We have a win-win-win situation. I win, the doctor wins and the community wins. The only thing that losses is my bank account.

So why am I feeling SAD? Because life ain't what it used to be. There is a treatment for everything and a person to be treated. It's a business and we are the product, or better yet, what is produced. Do you or I need Paxil? Probably not, but if answering a couple of generic questions is all it takes, there are a lot of people out there who think they do. Don't get me wrong. Some people suffer really badly from these diseases. I know a few and their courage and determination is refreshing and admirable. But the market they create isn't big enough, so a new one must be found (or created). Pharmaceuticals spend hundreds of millions of dollars creating these drugs and they need hundreds of millions to break even. Whether you like to admit it or not you are a data point, a potential, an unsatisfied customer, a person with a disease that unknown to you, is well known to them. Will they find you or will you find them?


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