The Age of Anxiety is an interesting documentary on the prevalence or apparent prevalence of anxiety in modern society. It raises but does not answer the question Is anxiety real, something we fall back on to understand what is going on, or something that is marketed to us by drug companies? If you are already anxious, you might want to skip this Scott Harper documentary as you will probably be talking back to the TV most of the time. Otherwise, it airs March 15th at 9 P.M. on the CBC.
“It is a modern phenomenon to take the complexity and enormity of human emotion and turn it into a treatable illness.”
One of the opening clips in The Age of Anxiety is a doctor saying “If you have an illness that can be cured by a new boyfriend or a cheque for $5,000 dollars you do not have a psychiatric disorder even though you will be given that diagnosis today.” There is also an interesting scene where friends read the definition of anxiety in the DSM-IV and find they all have the symptoms.
Another interesting passage is the Toronto university student who goes to the psych office to get a prescription and later on says “you can either deal with things or take the easy way out and get a prescription?”
The most interesting part of The Age of Anxiety is the debate as to what the definition of anxiety will be in the DSM-V. Some say it will open the floodgates to give a billable code to everything in the human condition. An example is a doctor who says it used to be that if you were still troubled one year after the loss of a loved one you were depressed, now it is two weeks after.
I am curious to see how many drug ads will air during the presentation of this documentary.