Anglo-Saxon Culture and Depression - A Linkage?

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by Zurkhardo, Oct 23, 2010.

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  1. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    I know I've likely asked a similar question to this before, but here goes.

    Even though they're not the countries with the world's highest suicide rate*, it seems that the US, Canada, and the UK (among others of a similar culture) have a much more developed "culture of depression," as I would call it.

    Most websites and organizations formed to address these issues are based in these Anglo-Saxon countries, as are most of their members and clients. SF is one example of this. Depression is a much more frank and ubiquitous topic in these societies, including in popular culture, cinema, and media (even ads related to treatments are quite common).

    The medical and psychological community, the latter of which is already the most developed in the world, seem far more involved with researching and treating Depression and similar mental illnesses than those based outside the anglosphere (i.e. the English speaking world).

    Granted, I understand much of this is based on anecdotal evidence, and presents casual problems - such as if depression is simply more noticed in these countries because we're more open to confronting it, or have done more research. But I still feel it's an interesting issue to discussion, especially in light of the fact that incidences of depression seem to grow most in those societies in which the American and British cultures - and their medical practices - are most prevalent.

    Thoughts on this my friends? Is it culture and society, or is it the medical community or perhaps something else entirely? Maybe this phenomenon doesn't even exist. I would like some opinions.

    *That distinction, according to the WHO, is held by Belarus, South Korea, and Japan, though it varies between them and other mostly East Asian and former communist countries. Such things are, alas, difficult to measure and do often have a cultural context.
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  2. chjones21

    chjones21 Well-Known Member

    Not sure - although I have travelled a lot. I would Russia definitely seems to me to have a culture of fatalism and depression --- a sort of Russian "soul". It is difficult to judge but I think I would rate Eastern European countries as more 'depressed' than Anglo-Saxon ones .... although they tend just to turn to drink rather than anti-depressants I think.

    A lot probably has to do with long, cold winters and short days too.

    Places like Finland and up near the Arctic circle have fairly high rates of suicide - and I think that is directly connected with the lack on sunlight in the winter.

    Japan and places I think depression manifests differently. I don't think their culture has a habit of "moaning" --- rather they internalise all their stresses and pressures and remain apparently functioning, until they top themselves.

    Countries with a lot of sun --- they have to be the ones with the least amount of suicides. The sun just makes you feel better.

    That's excepting the cases in some ultra-fundamentalist Islamic places where the women are kept locked inside houses etc. etc. - then they commit suicide. I remember watching a terrible documentary but I came in half-way through so I never worked out where they were, but it was a fishing area (the men seemed to be fishermen I think) and the girls as soon as they were married were forced into staying within the compound and not allowed out at all and even whilst the documentary people were filming a young girl (maybe eighteen or nineteen - with three young children too) she hanged herself from the fan in the ceiling. Most shocking documentary... and with children! How could she leave them - and yet I don't blame her either but anyway - horrible. Ones heart bled for all of them, in a funny sort of way even the husband despite the fact that when he was told he said, "Well, it is like shoes, if one pair wears out - you get another." He must have thought that having a tough attitude was the 'correct' way to respond.

    The sun helps, being outside helps, being in contact with natural, living things that are not human helps - growing things, gardens, animals, pets, water.

    Although that is only my impression, there are plenty of women who never get to feel the sun on their skin, or swim in water, or feel the breeze in their hair - so who knows whether those things are really important. They seem important to me, but bearing in mind places like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia (and the full-on burka/chadari and maybe in the end it is just having a solid family and being loved and cherished which is more important than feeling things like sun, wind and water - perhaps those are just added extras for those of us in the West who like that kinda thing...

    I don't know what the suicide statistics are for places like Saudi Arabia and I doubt there would be any way of finding true statistics.

    Mental health issues are everywhere across the world, I always view places like East Africa as seemingly happy because the people seem to be very outgoing and socially well-adapted but who knows what it is like in actuality. I do know that there are tribes in the Amazon jungle (very remote tribes) where the concept of suicide is apparently unknown and when a Western person tried to describe the fact of someone committing suicide, they were just so amazed they kept on laughing and asked him to tell the story again and again - because they simply couldn't fathom it, this idea of someone killing themselves.
  3. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    Canada and Australia are similar in many ways, with climate being a major difference, and they have similar suicide rates (11.6 per 100k vs 10.5, respectively) The large gaps are unfortunate

    English-speaking countries seem unremarkable by both measures.

    Interestingly, Latin America has a low suicide rate - I'm under the impression family is more important there. I suspect that makes a huge difference.
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  4. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    I think the linkage to suicide is feeling hopeless and despondent. There are many causes of that, including mental illness. When a person doesn't feel they can measure up, take care of matters, or escape unbearable circumstances or memories, this is where the hopeless and despondency take over.
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