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The condition that lost its name but gained a treatment: : experiences of depression and antidepressant use in a neoliberal context

  • Kerstin Sandell
Publiceringsår: 2015
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag: abstract

Abstract english

This paper analyses experiences of depression and antidepressant use within a neoliberal society. The paper is based on interviews with mainly women using antidepressants in Sweden and makes use of the post-political as conceptualized by Chantal Mouffe as a framework.

I find that depression is reduced to a state, a diagnosis. In comparing with Nancy Friedan who gave the depression and despair American women in the suburbs felt a name and a solution – curbed and isolated lives and emancipation, I argue that depression now has lost its name. This means that articulations of connections between living conditions and becoming depressed are mostly absent in the interviews.
In the second I problematize the treatment – antidepressants. First I highlight that the treatment seems to become permanent for many, resulting in long term antidepressant use. Secondly I problematize the underlying necessity that comes forward strongly in the interviews of functioning, to hold on to a job and keep family relations going.
Concluding I argue that the lack of a problem combined with a treatment that seems to uphold functioning, forecloses formulations of that something is wrong and/or could change. Linking to the post-political, I would argue that medicine accepts a significant role in understanding depression as a de-politicized health problem. This makes antidepressants a good neoliberal solution, since it makes it possible for persons to stay functioning without articulating any critique or demands for change.


  • Gender Studies
  • depression
  • experiences
  • antidepressants
  • neoliberalism


9th European Feminist Research Conference, Sex & Capital
  • After the success with the new generation antidepressants: Experiences, practices, discourses and changes in the self.
Kerstin Sandell portrait
E-post: kerstin [dot] sandell [at] genus [dot] lu [dot] se


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