14 Mar 2014


Some time within the last decade, as is with every cultural shift it was impossible to pinpoint the exact year, people began referring to antidepressants in the same context as they had previously referred to coffee. Likewise, it has been impossible (although not neglected as a topic of research by sociology journals and popular science sites alike) to trace a history to a single origin in either social practice or language, with the former side (as it is true that the continued debate among those for whom such histories are a point of worthy investigation would soon draw sides) citing evidence on public Facebook groups of teenagers talking about taking antidepressants as semi-illicit act of socialisation,1 although data collected from OkCupid.com around the same time shows that singles were also engaged in mutual medicating as an emerging trend in courtship, while the latter side cites several key articles, notably “The Evolution of Meds in the Schoolyard” by Alana de Mocca in The Atlantic Monthly, as evidence that the convergence of linguistic signification from the diasporic medicinal towards the colloquial and everyday ushered the acceptance of antidepressants in to the wider culture. Despite coffee being a stimulant and so therefore already in theory (however not technically accurate) the opposite of a depressant, such as heroin or alcohol, it was this linguist hurdle, of “stimulant” and “antidepressant” as mood-altering substances that were separate but shared the same opposite, that proved insurmountable, resulting in various colloquial terms dropping in and out of popular use (meds, drugs, chems) before people settled on “antis” as the catchall term of choice, supplanting coffee in nearly all common parlance (e.g. “I’m like a walking corpse before my morning anits.”). While some feared that the rise in antidepressant popularity would result in a surge of distribution of non-prescribed drugs through restaurants and coffee houses which had seen a decline in coffee sales, in fact, pharmacies soon dedicated small areas to casual seating, and this evolved into emergence of the “pharmacafĂ©,” a place where medicinal shelving was minimised to make room for more seated areas and an emphasis was placed on ambience and table-service, and once these initial fears were shown to be unfounded, or probably before this point, the market forces, preempting the social appetite (rather than the social acceptance), quote-unquote opened the floodgates and one could soon buy a medicine cup with a picture of sleepy Garfield saying, “Wake me when the antis are ready.”

  1. Given the lack of grammatical structure or consistency in shared vocabulary among the past decade’s teenagers, many experts have dismissed this evidence as “mere nonsense.”