When I moved from India to the UK, one of the things that stood out for me was the high number of people that lived alone. One of the criteria for discharge after a Day Surgery procedure under sedation or anaesthesia is that the patient should be accompanied by another adult for a duration of 24 hours afterwards. It was very surprising for me to find that sometimes we had to cancel cases because this criterion could not be fulfilled – not one family member or friend could be with the patient for a whole day. In other cases patients were terribly stressed because their friend or relative could only come to the hospital at a particular time to pick them up, hence if the patient was not ready for home by then, they would not be happy.
The second thing that struck me was the number of people on antidepressant medications. In 2013, in some areas up to 1 in 6 people were on them. So many and rising every year!!! Figures from 2011 say that NHS England spent 270 million pounds on antidepressants – a massive 23% increase on 2010. In 1991, English pharmacies handed over 9 million prescriptions. In 2001, it was 24.3 million. In 2012 the number had grown to 46.7 million prescriptions – a 9.1% rise on the previous year. More details are available in this article: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-23553897
Could the two things be related? No man is an island. We are designed to live in communities. We are interdependent in countless different ways yet in the modern world there is a high degree of isolation. How did it come to be like this? Is this the price we pay for modernisation or individualisation? Why do kids have to leave home at age 18? They might still be just kids. They don’t all mature at the same age. I don’t know. But this is our problem and pills alone won’t fix all of it. We need to think about the connectedness between us. They say a heart to heart with a friend is as much if not more useful than a session with a shrink.