By Roy Klein
Forget about those silly fashion trends. Pop culture icons? They’re a dime a dozen. And the hula hoop, yo-yo and Rubic’s cube were mere child’s play. The hottest craze around these days is illness. That’s right. It’s become de rigeure to be sick. But not any run of the mill sickness will do. Like everything else in life, sicknesses have become status symbols. And you have to be diagnosed with the right one at the right time.
Just symptoms of life? Nope!
It all started in the ‘80s. I had always thought that being tired, down, restless, worried, unfocused and unmotivated all the time were just symptoms of life – things we just had to battle through. Suddenly, though, people with those symptoms started proclaiming they had a disease — Epstein-Barre Syndrome (or its identical twin, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). After a while, it seemed like almost everyone was afflicted.
By the ‘90s, however, these diseases magically disappeared. Did modern medicine manage to eradicate them? I doubt it, since the conditions were caused by a virus for which there was no treatment and no cure. Then what happened to them? They became passe.
I’m clinically depressed, thank you.
I know this because – sometime in the mid-‘90s – a woman colleague told me she had gone to the doctor feeling chronically tired, down, restless, worried, unfocused and unmotivated. When I asked her whether she had Epstein-Barre, she was utterly aghast: “God, no, “ she responded. “That’s so. . .so. . .’80s.” Then she picked her chin up and proudly boasted, “I’m clinically depressed!”
Un-cool among the ailment elite
Soon, so was everyone else.
AADHD: Cooler than depression
They found one. These days, if you feel tired, down, restless, worried, unfocused and unmotivated it can only mean one thing – AADHD (adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Way cooler than depression, because it’s a disease that we used to think only kids had. And the drugs are better, too (speed, to be exact).
Mental conditions are not for the masses.
Of course, mental conditions aren’t for everyone. Some people still feel there’s a stigma attached to them. So, isn’t there a cool new medical condition around? Yes, there is. In the last few months, several middle-aged women I know have been diagnosed with various types of myalgia. Myalgia means muscle pain. To some degree, we all suffer from that. And it makes us feel tired, down, restless, worried, unfocused and unmotivated.
Jumping on the disease bandwagon
I don’t mean to make light of any of these conditions or the people who really have problems with them. It does seem, though, that once a “new” disease is publicized, everybody jumps on the bandwagon. People start believing they have the symptoms. Doctors start over-diagnosing the illness based on their patients’ complaints. They also start prescribing the brand-new drugs being marketed to treat the disease.
Fueling the flames of disease fads.
Don’t underestimate the role the drug companies play in fueling the flames of disease fads. Someone recently told me that the sales reps for a relatively new drug used to treat ADHD are “the best-looking in the business.” Is there any wonder how and why ADHD became such a hot disease?
The next big disease
It’s too bad there’s no financial market in disease futures. Because I’ve already identified the next big thing – OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). You obsessively worry over certain things and compulsively perform the same ritualistic acts over and over again. It’s debilitating. In fact, it makes you feel tired, down, restless, worried, unfocused and unmotivated. I think I might be afflicted.
Or, it may just be a cold. <<
Editors note: I just heard of a new one, and I’m not kidding. It’s called Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, or PGAD. Get your reservations in early.
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