Depression, deprivation, and dysbiosis: Polyiatrogenesis in multiple chronic illnesses

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Abstract

Biomedicine tends to treat “mental” illnesses as if they could be isolated from multiple social and somatic problems. Yet mental suffering is inseparable from complex somatosocial relations. Clinical fieldwork in a deprived area of the UK shows that nearly all the people treated for “depression” are chronically multimorbid, both in their bodies and in their social relations. Mental suffering is co-produced by poverty, trauma, and excessive medication use. Patients’ guts are as imbalanced as their moods. Single vertical treatments make them worse rather than better. In the UK, patients in poorer neighbourhoods do not “lack access” to healthcare. If anything, they suffer from taking too many medications with too little integration. I conceptualize the bad effects of excessive interventions in patients with multiple chronic problems as polyiatrogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Early online date6 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Feb 2021

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