Treating a known disease with an unknown cause: an analysis of antidepressant advertisements in popular magazines
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I investigate various dimensions of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of antidepressant medication; specifically causes of depression, self-diagnosis, benefits and risks, and type of appeal used in the advertisements. My study tracks the history of depression, the development of antidepressant medication, and the regulation of psychotropic drug advertisements. My data utilizes all advertisements that appeared since 1995 in the 26 most popular consumer magazines. I analyze these advertisements both by brand and by what magazine the ad appeared in. My findings indicate that this DTC advertising does an adequate job of addressing the causes of depression, does not overly encourage self-diagnosis, mentions side-effects more frequently than benefits but minimizes their severity, and overwhelmingly frames depression as a white, adult female condition.