General Question

WifeOfBath's avatar

Why do you think so many Americans suffer from depression?

Asked by WifeOfBath (503points) June 9th, 2009
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

19 Answers

MrGV's avatar

Because they are weak and tend to give up easily.

for1qu's avatar

More choice and high expectations.
Over one/two hundred years ago you were probably expected to do one certain job and be ok at that. Today were have many to choose from and we are expected to do a lot more. It may seem counter intuitive but less choice is better, we will be happier with what we have.

To be honest I have no idea, though I feel it’s has something to do with more choice and high expectations.

Likeradar's avatar

Is the percentage of Americans higher than the percentage of people from other countries? Does it differ in westernized nations?

My guess is that we tend to have so many of our basic needs met… food, shelter, etc, so we can focus on issues with our mental states.

Mr_Callahan's avatar

Because society has made new rules about how we should live and expectations are incredibly high. Many people do not have the capacity to compete and survive in such an invironment. Depression is the end product of an unsatisfied life. Of course there is clinical depression which can occur at any time to anyone without the cause and effect I decsribed.

Skippy's avatar

So many people now have way too much going on in their lives. They spend time making sure that they as well as their kids, are involved in everything under the sun.

Then it hits, they have no time to do the things that are necessary in life. OR they start to fall behind in bills due to their inept attempt to keep up with the Jones’.

When the pace is too quick, there is not enough time for your brain and body to really relax, hence, anxiety abounds.

We must all learn to “stop and smell the flowers” then we won’t continue our lives artificially happy.

DarkScribe's avatar

Why just Americans? Do you think that it is a uniquely American phenomenon?

kheredia's avatar

Because they don’t know how good they have it. Maybe if they stayed a couple of weeks in a third world country they would appreciate all the opportunities they have in America.

wundayatta's avatar

It has to do with attitudes towards and understanding of disease. In China, if you ask if people are depressed, almost no one says yes. If you ask a slightly different question (I don’t remember the term the Chinese Professor I was talking to used), you get the same rates of depression there that you get in the US.

It is very difficult, therefore, to get accurate representations of rates of mental illness. In different cultures, there is more stigma attached to it, so fewer people are willing to report it. Some countries don’t even take statistics. One study, reported in the New York Times found the following:

_Chart: ’‘A Worldwide Problem’’ From 2001 to 2003, World Health Organization surveys measured the prevalence of serious mental disorders in the populations of various countries. DEVELOPED COUNTRIES United States: 7.7% France: 2.7 Belgium: 2.4 Netherlands: 2.3 Japan: 1.5 Germany: 1.2 Italy: 1.0 Spain: 1.0 LESS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES* Colombia: 5.2% Ukraine: 4.8 Lebanon: 4.6 Mexico: 3.7 China Shanghai: 1.1 Beijing: 0.9 Nigeria: 0.4 *As classified by the World Bank (Source by Journal of the American Medical Association).

The question is not so much why Americans suffer from depression, as why people suffer from depression. There is no accurate way to find out if depression rates are any different in other countries.

Depression has many causes: genes combined with environmental triggers is the short reason. Countries with more stressors have higher rates of depression. In the US, there is the pressure to succeed by amassing wealth that is not felt as strongly in other countries. Countries with wars have higher rates of depression. Anyway, there are a lot of theories, but as far as I can tell, not a lot of data.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Depression exists in all nations. Not every nation has the resources in the field of Psychology that America does so many cases go undiagnosed.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Unrealistic expectations of what an average life is. Not unrealistic in that you can’t achieve it but unrealistic in what’s portrayed that’s “average.” People naturally want to exceed “average” and then get all twisted up.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence I’m inclined to agree that the American sense of entitlement may very well contribute.

Mr_Callahan's avatar

DS: No, but we sure refined the hell out of it.

Steven0512's avatar

Dependence on a chemical solution.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Steven0512 That would be addiction, which often resultant from depression but a different situation.
I do agree that too many Americans look to prescriptions instead of addressing the core problems. However, prescription medications are very effective in treating depression so long as they also see a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist. Self medicating with alone does nothing.

benjaminlevi's avatar

Because the many many Americans seem to lead hollow, materialistic lives chasing what they are told will make them happy.

qualitycontrol's avatar

too much money and not enough love

dannyc's avatar

The spin of society has a big influence. Constantly barraging all of us with their images of perfect, of what you need to be happy, self-help gurus who just spin their trash and subliminally tell you that you are inadequate, don’t measure up, have the right suit, style, or “je ne sais croi”. Eventually you look at your neighbor jealously, they do the same to you, your co-workers gossip how you don’t do this or that. Then the ultimate stress test takes place. You look in the mirror and say to yourself one of two things. I am good and worthy of my love, or I am what is said about me. If you pick the latter a mechanism starts that spirals you down a path of increasing sadness about your lot, which triggers over time a feeling of despair, thus leading to depression. People cannot be satisfied with what they have, the air they breathe, the value of their own personas and with this incredible media control of our lives, it is not surprising that the rate of depression has so increased. Of course, I am not discounting many other factors. Justt iving in cement cities with little attachment to nature, in our cold enclaves shutting us off from each other with only televisions and computer screens….well it is kind of depressing.

wenn's avatar

Because America is depressing.

wundayatta's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic I do agree that too many Americans look to prescriptions instead of addressing the core problems. However, prescription medications are very effective in treating depression so long as they also see a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist. Self medicating with alone does nothing.

I’m of a mind to think it’s the other way around. Too many people try to address so-called “core problems” instead of getting medication. You get meds, and all of a sudden, your problems are no longer problems. They’re just things you can handle easily. When I’m depressed, every little thing is an impossible obstacle. Take the right meds, and the stuff that looked so difficult is now simple. Laughable, really.

The right meds are not alcohol or illegal drugs.

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