Culture, society, gender and depression

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Culture and depression

Depression is far more widely reported in Western society.  Is this due to its higher prevalence, its wider diagnosis or differences in diagnosis in other cultures?

In the West we associate depression mostly with lowered mood, although as we saw at the outset there are distinct physical symptoms too.  In Asian culture depression is very rarely reported or diagnosed.  However, the physical symptoms that we associate with depression do appear to be common, namely apathy, tiredness, lack of volition (no attempt to initiate actions or interactions), loss of appetite etc.  This unwillingness to report psychological symptoms may be due to the stigma some societies associate with illnesses of the mind and the discrimination that families may face as a result.

Family could provide another explanation of the apparent rarity in Asian culture.  Extended families provide social support that we know can alleviate problems that are stress related (recall your AS).  Stress and depression are known to be closely correlated. 

Gender and depression

More likely to be examined since it does shed some light on the possible causes of depression.

Williams & Hargreaves (1995) reported that women are up to three times more likely to suffer depression than men.  One theory for this discrepancy is that in fact men do suffer just as much depression as women but they fail to report it.  Some of it may be hidden behind other behaviours such as alcohol or drug abuse or behind aggression.  Research, however, suggests that men

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