Recession Depression

July 27, 2011

One small glance at just about everything around us creates an Amy-Winehouse-induced sense of the blues, even while living in supposedly the greatest country on earth.
As Miss Amy reveals, wealth, fame and all the things in between won’t bring happy to your front door — and as the twits in DC dance around each other as the debt ceiling deadline looms less than a week away, people who seem to have everything are some of the most depressed people around.

Strange, however, is that the better off a person, the more likely they’re going to end up being all sad-sack about it — maybe it’s more-then-enough leading to wanting even more and not getting it.

(Illustration found here).

A new study released last week has revealed that indeed the better off you are, the higher chance of depression.
From the abstract off the BioMedical Central research (full study PDF):

The average lifetime and 12-month prevalence estimates of DSM-IV MDE (major depressive episodes) were 14.6 percent and 5.5 percent in the 10 high income and 11.1 percent and 5.9 percent in the 8 low-middle income countries.
The average age of onset ascertained retrospectively was 25.7 in high and 24.0 in low-middle income countries.
Functional impairment was associated with recency of MDE.
The female:male ratio was about 2:1.
In high income countries, younger age was associated with higher 12-month prevalence; in several low-middle income countries, in comparison, older age was associated with greater likelihood of MDE.
The strongest demographic correlate in high income countries was being separated and in low-middle income countries was being divorced or widowed.
MDE is a significant public health problem across all regions of the world and is strongly linked to social conditions.
Future research is needed to investigate the combination of demographic risk factors that are most strongly associated with MDE in the specific countries included in the WMH.

ABC News reacts:

“We were struck by the difference among high-income and low-income countries,” says lead author on the study Dr. Evelyn Bromet, a professor of psychiatry at State University of New York at Stony Brook.
“Why this may be the case is the $64,000 question. We don’t know for sure.”

“Wealthier nations … are industrialized nations where individuals rely less on family support for everything from childcare to marital advice. There is a well known link between social support being a protective factor against depression,” says Dr. Sudeepta Varma, assistant professor of Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center.
“I also believe that poorer nations may look to religious/spiritual beliefs for comfort, also a protective factor.”
On the other hand, it could have to do with expectations for success and wealth, says Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center.
“There’s a greater disparity of wealth in higher income nations, so part of what happens is that your expectations are greater.
In a sense, you have farther to fall than one might have in a lower-income country,” he says.

And if one is feeling too depressed here in the US, do a geographical change and move to China: The French are the most disturbed (21 percent), followed by US peoples (19 percent), while China (6.5 percent) and Mexico (8 percent) had the lowest.

Nothing, however, hurts more than income disparity, and in the US this makes for one depressed, hurtful place.
From an interactive display at the Economic Policy Institute: Between 1998 and 2008 average incomes in the US fell by $459, the average income of the riches 10 percent grew, while for the bottom 90 percent average income declined.

See the picture — if you do, you’re most likely about to suffer a major episode of DSM-IV MDE.

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