Depression in Traditional Societies

Depression in Traditional Societies

For some time now, it has been thought that women ( and men) from traditional socities, i.e. developing countries, often do not express depressive feelings in the same way as in more “modern” societies, for example in Northern European Countries or the US. It is thought that depression manifests itself not so much by thoughts of self-deprecation, guilt and feelings of sadness. Instead, depression is thought to be manfiested more by back pains, headaches, constant tiredness and other vague somatic sypmtoms. This is a relevant point for instance when exploring maternal or postpartum depression in a woman. The study from Zimbabwe points out that same finding. However, the authors go on to say that if one then asks the women whether they feel sad, upset, irritable or depressed they often do endorse such feeling.

This very interesting study from Dr. Patel and a research group that has studied depression in Africa for some time, argues that in practice most patients who suffer from depressio also suffered from anxiety and question the wisdom of making depression and anxiety states two “different” conditions. Also, they highlight the great prevalence of these states in conditions of psychosocial stress, poverty, environmental deprivation and feeling trapped. These conditions are exactly what is prevalent in many inner city neighborhoods for instance in the U.S. particularly in minority populations. It seems that many of those conditions of deprivation are also quite prevalent in modern socieites and the same manifestations occur in affected groups.

Patel, V., Abas, M., Broadhead J., Todd, C., Reeler, A. Depression in developing countriess: lessons from Zimbabwe. British Medical Journal 2001. Vol. 322. 482-484 LoginUsername


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