Over the last several decades, it has become common practice to view and describe natural and expected responses to trauma, adversity, oppression, hardship, etc, as symptoms of disordered mental health. For example, the feeling states that used to be known as fear and despair have come to be known as anxiety and depression. Some might argue that semantics don’t really matter, but language is powerful. And the words we use say a lot about the perspectives we hold.
Our human condition includes a broad and full range of emotions and feelings. All of these are ‘normal’, and all of these say something important about how we’re experiencing our lives. Too often, the most accessible options are ones that emphasize diagnoses and medically oriented treatments. When people seek help for the states of distress they’re experiencing, and they are (as is often the case) told a psych drug can or should be used to treat the thoughts and feelings they’re having, their experience is being medicalized and/or pathologized.
There’s an exceptional group of critical scholars, clinicians and service users in the UK who, for many years, have been saying, “instead of asking people what’s wrong with them, we should be asking what happened to them”.