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Depression According to Cross-Cultural and Behavioural Perspective

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Research Question: Depression according to the Cross-cultural and Behavioural Perspectives

Mariam Magdalena Diallo

Professor: Ms. Samineh Izedi

I- Introduction:

Depression is an illness that affects the psyche, the mind the soul and the physical aspects of the individual. Its symptoms are various and differ from one another. Through the Behavioural and Cross Cultural Perspectives within psychology’s theories clearly give a detailed explanation of this phenomenon.

This essay will examine the way in which depression is viewed according to the cross cultural perspective that states that depressions are most likely to differ when looking at different races or ethnicities. This essay will also look at how behavioural factors such as the environment affect someone's experience of depression.

II- Depression:

Depression is an illness that involves the mood, thoughts, and the body that leads the depressed individual to be affected on many levels, such as its usual needs which are to eat, to drink and to sleep, also the one feels about his self. Depression being a disorder is not a “passing blue mood”. Individuals affected by this disorder cannot get out of depression without proper and adequate medication. Indeed without a medication followed the disorder can lat for more than a year.

Depression risk factors are: a person’s sex it is said in multiple studies that women are more likely to get depressed because of many variables such as the post maternal period and other. The age is also an important variable that leads individuals to get depressed as their physical aspects, social status changes, the transitional phase by which they are going through might accentuate symptoms of depression. The Marital status when an individual stays a long time without being married or just experienced divorced the change might affect the individual’s self causing symptoms of depression. Social class, when an individual constantly feels that a lack of satisfaction of its social class or can’t achieve the social class he/she aims at, symptoms of depression can start appearing. The Genetic factors are such that they are non modifiable therefore if an individual presents a constant lack of satisfaction, or is predisposed to be depressed because of his genes he/she is more tend to be depressed..

The symptoms of depression encloses the loss of interest in things that were before enjoyed, a continuously sad and very anxious mood, unstable eating pattern; the individual might gain or loose (anorexia) weight, a multitude of negative feelings about the individual’s own self such as the feeling of worthlessness, guilt and social marginalisation, low energy level, bad mood of the individual, a feeling of being slow, also sleep disturbance with repeated oversleeping and insomnias, extreme fatigue. The symptoms also appear on the thinking level, the depressed individual finds hard to remember or analyse things, or making decisions. It also affects the individual’s character, he happens to be irritable easily, the individual also tend to think of death and suicide more often than the norm. Indeed the abuse of alcohol and drug can be considered as being signs of depression.

There are three types of depression: dysthymia, major depression and bipolar disease. Major depression is when study, work, sleep, eat and enjoy other activities are affected. Whereas dysthymia is less severe in the sense that it has long term chronic symptoms that do not disable but cause the individual from feeling and functioning well.

However, bipolar disorder is characterised by constant mood changes: from high moods to low moods. The mood changes are sometimes gradual and vary from one extreme to another.

III-Cross cultural perspective:

"Cross-cultural psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mental process, including both their variability and invariance, under diverse cultural conditions." (Ho & Wu, 2001, p. 4). It tends to extend and specify the psychological studies such as the cultural differences when looking at behavior, personality description and analysis. Indeed psychologists such as Berry, Poortinga, Segall, and Dasen (1992), refer to cross cultural psychology as being "the scientific study of human behavior and its transmission, taking into account the ways in which behaviors’ are shaped and influenced by social and cultural forces".

When looking at depression, cross cultural psychology helps understand it deeper by analyzing and retrieving each characteristic of different cultures. According to psychologists, depression is felt and lived differently within cultures even though the symptoms are the same, the reasons, and the way it is felt is different. Looking at a study where the sample was composed of Anglo Australian, Somali and Ethiopian refugees. For the Anglo Australian, depression was more of an individual experience framed within accounts of misfortunes and that results into social isolation. However for the Ethiopian and Somali sample depression was felt on a collective scale due to passed shared experiences such as memories of war, and the refugees experience in a new environment. As the experiences are variables that determine the outcome of the individual’s psychological state, depression according to this study from Social science and medicine (January 2008), the experience of depression differs within cultures.

Indeed in this case the Ethiopian and Somali status of refugees in a foreign environment influences more the factors of depression as the social readjustment is more difficult: this is the reason why they can only identify themselves to the people that went through the same experiences and from the same culture, and identify depression as a feeling associated with collectivity as it is homogeneous within the cultural group.

Indeed, cross-cultural psychology on depression underlines the different variables that are major within different cultures and how do they affect the experience of depression and depression itself. For instance, in a study conducted in a college where the sample was US and Indian students. Within the Indian community the variables that lead to depression were more likely to be a result of gender issues whereas in the American college student’s community depression was more influenced by gender role issues in this case it can be seen that both variables lead the depression to be experienced in different ways through different variables.

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