Are We Overmedicalizing Normal Emotions Like Anxiety?

With mental health now at the forefront of public consciousness, traditional and social media platforms are inundated with stories about new treatments, rising mental health issues, and systemic deficiencies. While this increased attention has positive effects, such as promoting mental health literacy and reducing stigma, there are also concerns about over-pathologizing normal mood states.

Unintended Consequences and Changing Perceptions

While the focus on mental health is commendable, some experts argue that the medicalization of everyday human experiences may lead to overdiagnosis and over-medication. Furthermore, awareness-raising efforts might inadvertently generate more mental health problems or alter people’s understanding of mental health in ways that have adverse consequences. Balancing awareness and caution is crucial in navigating these potential downsides.

Are the Terms Anxiety and Depression Undergoing the Phenomenon of Concept Creep

To investigate whether “anxiety” and “depression” have undergone concept creep, a phenomenon in which the meanings of terms expand over time, a research group conducted a study. By analyzing vast datasets spanning five decades, they discovered that both terms have indeed intensified in emotional severity, indicating a shift towards pathologization.


Two significant trends emerged from the study that shed light on the intensified meanings of “anxiety” and “depression.” Firstly, these terms increasingly appeared together, indicating a growing association between them. Secondly, they were frequently found near words related to illness, such as “disorder” and “symptom,” suggesting an increased understanding of these terms as clinical phenomena.

Pathologizing Rather than Normalizing

The findings of the study suggest that anxiety and depression are increasingly viewed through a clinical lens, with their transient and functional nature often overlooked. Instead of being considered normal mood states, they are now pathologized as disorders. This simultaneous broadening, intensifying, and pathologizing of the concepts raise concerns about the appropriate identification and treatment of clinically significant anxiety and depression, as well as the potential for unnecessary treatment and self-diagnosis.

A Theory to Ponder: What Causes the Exaggeration of Normal Emotions?

Have you ever wondered why anxiety and depression-related disorders have become more common in each upcoming generation? The prevalence of these conditions seems to exceed what one would typically expect.

To state some facts, there has been a significant rise in these mental health issues among the current generation. In fact, 2011 marked the highest number of cases, making it the worst mental health crisis of that decade (1 Trusted Source
Teen Depression and Suicide, A SILENT CRISIS

Go to source).

Alongside the skyrocketing numbers, numerous theories have emerged in an attempt to explain this phenomenon.

One such theory is the “snowflake theory.” It suggests that the parenting style characterized by overprotection and excessive intervention, often referred to as helicopter parenting, has made it harder for this generation to cope with adversity.

Another theory posits that social media plays a detrimental role in the mental well-being of young individuals. It is believed that exposure to social media platforms can lead to distorted perceptions of emotions and contribute to the development of mental health issues.

The third theory revolves around the increased competitiveness of today’s world, especially considering that this generation is the most educated one thus far. Despite being literate and knowledgeable, many individuals from this generation struggle to find a clear path to success, which may contribute to their anxiety and uncertainty.

In conclusion, it is important to understand that emotions such as nervousness and anxiety are normal and serve a purpose in our everyday lives. They help us stay alert and prepared both mentally and physically through the fight-fright-flight response. However, pathologizing these responses without due cause may lead to long-term concerns.

Reference :

  1. Teen Depression and Suicide, A SILENT CRISIS – (

Source: Medindia

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