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Functioning Numbness Instead of Feelings as a Direction : Young Adults’ Experiences of Antidepressant Use

  • Kerstin Sandell
  • Hanna Bornäs
Publiceringsår: 2017
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 543-558
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Sociology
Volym: 3
Nummer: 51
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: SAGE Publications

Abstract english

In this article we explore, through in-depth interviews, young adults’ experiences of depression and antidepressant use in contemporary neoliberal society. We show that medication initially brings relief and an ability to function. However, in the longer perspective the dominating experience of antidepressants is emotional numbness. We suggest that this functioning yet numb subject is well suited to neoliberal demands, where the informants respond to outer demands without challenging them. Inspired by Chantal Mouffe we suggest that depression as a diagnosis is depoliticising, and with Ian Craib, we can see a denial of disappointment that surfaces in how depression is related to contemporary society. As a possible form of resistance we identify the strong positive emphasis on emotions as giving direction, motivating the interviewees to stop medicating. Still, we see a tension between functioning – expected from adults – and emotionality – linked to adolescence as a phase that should pass.


  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology
  • antidepressants
  • depression
  • experiences
  • individualisation
  • neoliberal
  • post-political
  • Sweden
  • young adults


  • After the success with the new generation antidepressants: Experiences, practices, discourses and changes in the self.
  • ISSN: 0038-0385
Kerstin Sandell portrait
E-post: kerstin [dot] sandell [at] genus [dot] lu [dot] se


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