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Depression Levels May Be Higher In Richer Countries

November 9, 2012

The CNN article, People in affluent nations may be more depression-prone, details the findings from an in-depth study researching depression levels among those living in more economically successful parts of the world, and compares them to those who live in tougher economic climates. The study found that people living in more affluent counties tended to have higher rates of depression.

There were several potential reasons given for this finding. One possibility was that the people in the less affluent areas had a harder time recalling specific incidences when they were feeling depressed (in this case, the study defined depression as having an episode of clinical depression within your lifetime). People in poorer areas could have a harder time in general, have to work harder, or could simply feel less consistently happy. Another potential reasoning behind the findings is the added stressors that people in economically successful countries have to face. There is much more competition, people are always looking for something bigger and better, and there is little time for relaxation. These kinds of stressors could very possibly trigger feelings of depression.

I thought it was really interesting that the article did not mention any sort of biological or clinical reasoning behind depression. The entire foundation of the article was based on the assumption that depression rates vary in different areas because of region-specific circumstances. To me, this demonstrates the vast polarity that exists between the biological and sociological approaches to understanding and explaining mental health.

Ben Williams


A.D.H.D. Treatment for Young Children

November 9, 2012

In the New York Times article, Drugs to Treat A.D.H.D. Reach the Preschool Set, author Roni Caryn Rabin discusses the growing trend of A.D.H.D. medications being used for young children. The article discusses the hardships faced in trying to determine if a child truly needs medication or not. Is this growing trend of prescribing children under six really necessary, or can something else be done?

The article starts by telling the story of Ruth Grau, who was informed that her 3-year-old son had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D. Ruth and her husband did not want to medicate their young son, so they worked to try and change his behavior by introducing their son to more exercise, occupational therapy and a healthier diet. In Kindergarten, their son was said to still have difficulty sitting down, was fidgeting, had trouble staying on task and would constantly want to go outside and play, characteristics that I believe all kindergarteners portray. Ruth was told that her son was falling behind in school. Ruth’s son began medication at the mere age of five.

Ruth’s son, however, is not the only child being put on medications for A.D.H.D. at an incredibly young age. The article explains that Methylphenidates, such as Ritalin, are being prescribed often to children under six, even though it is not approved. I find it incredibly disturbing that children are being prescribed a medication that is not prescribed for them. Critics are saying that Americans are quickly relying on medications to help with A.D.H.D. instead of looking to discipline or life changes.

According to a study, the amount of children between the ages of six and twelve who are taking medications for A.D.H.D. is steadily increasing. As discussed in class, there has been a 700 percent increase in A.D.H.D. drug prescribing since 1990, which I believe shows that doctors are diagnosing A.D.H.D. way too frequently. Behavioral psychologists admit difficulty in telling the difference between a typical young child and one with A.D.H.D. If this is the case, I do not think doctors should not be jumping to medications so quickly. Many children on A.D.H.D. medications loose weight, stop growing, suffer insomnia and become moody and nervous. I believe that more emphasis needs to be placed on efforts to reduce A.D.H.D. rather than just medications. These medications are not good for our children and this major increase, I believe is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.

Kelsey Wolfe

PTSD in Veterans and Victims of Natural Disaster

November 9, 2012

After someone endures a traumatic event in his or her life, there is often stress that follows years after that event.  PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder is becoming more widespread in America, especially within our armed forces. PTSD differs from a similar disorder “acute stress disorder” or ASD: a psychic distress after a disaster that can last up to a month.  A study done in the Huffington post confirms that more soldiers are dying from suicide than any other injuries or accidents from combat. The article states that this past July was the deadliest of all month with 38 suicides among active duty and reserve soldiers. These statistics are truly astounding and this disorder has spread due to the fact that when our active duty and veterans come home care isn’t readily available.

In recent years and in a down economy mental health programs have burdened a large amount of budget cuts. The cuts to mental health programs have reach such staggering proportions that in August, president Obama signed an executive order to hire more mental health professionals to serve our veterans and active duty military. The article states that: “We must do more and sooner, or the numbers we’re seeing will quadruple and impact us all.” (Woods, Huffington Post).

Not only is PTSD seen in our veterans, there have been many cases related to the events of 9/11 and natural disasters including the recent aftermath from hurricane Sandy. Another article I found discusses the traumatic events that recently occurred due to hurricane Sandy and the related stress that follows. This article also discussed the various coping methods dealing with PTSD including the therapy sessions needed to overcome the disorder or illness.  The safest and most effective approach to dealing with PTSD emphasizes “careful listening to assess a person’s response, assessment of an individual’s capacity to cope and their risk of self-destructive behavior” (Sederer M.D., HP). Non-judgmental opinion is always encouraged and mostly is important to receive help from someone you trust. Sederer relates these methods to the recent tragedy and aftermath of Sandy. He points out that currently there are important recourses for people dealing with traumatic stress available in New York City 24 hours a day from Lifenet (1-800-LIFENET).  It was reassuring to me that mental health professionals are utilizing their skills in a time of need. PTSD is a very serious issue that needs to be examined to fully comprehend what someone experiences while going through extreme traumatic stress.


Daniel Roth




Effects of SAD Symptoms, Exhibited by Parents, on Children

November 8, 2012

A new study out of Johns Hopkins University Medical Center has revealed that children of parents with social anxiety disorder (SAD) have a much higher chance of developing SAD themselves, than do children of parents without the disorder. The relationship seems to be an obvious one, but one that had not been studied extensively until now. The study examined 66 anxious parents and their children between the ages of 7 and 12, finding that nearly one third of the these children had SAD. Certain parental behaviors, such as lack of warmth and extreme doubt, create anxious environments for their children. Despite the fact that anxiety is not inherited through genes, there are environmental factors that can raise a child’s propensity to having the disorder. Currently, SAD effects one in every five children in the United States. This rate, which seems frighteningly high to me, is especially scary because SAD has been linked to more serious things such as depression and substance abuse later in life.

Creating a safe, stress-free home environment now seems more important than ever. I think the most important part would be to start with the parents, and have every child’s primary care physician relate to the parents the extreme importance of anxiety-related parental behaviors. With education about the disorder and the increased propensity of their children developing it, these parents could create a safe environment for their children, and prevent the “genetic mechanisms responsible for the disease” from being unlocked.

As the economic state of our country remains at a dismal level, the rate of anxiety and depression type disorders is sure to increase, and has since the 2008 economic crisis. Doctors need to be especially vigilant in making sure that parents know the risks that SAD poses to their children, and that they do their best to prevent any and all environmental factors from being triggered. As someone who is in my early 20’s, and wants to have a family by my late 20’s or early 30’s, the thought of my children having to deal with something such as SAD, that could ultimately lead to depression and substance abuse, is extremely scary. I would like to see studies like this one, done at Johns Hopkins, be more widely publicized so that the general public can be more aware of the prominence of the disorder and the risk it poses to our younger generations. We begin to venture down a slippery slope as a society if we begin medicating children at younger and younger ages; the increased rate of SAD would only accelerate this medicalization of our youth.


Ryan Whyte – SOC 410

Antidepressants during pregnancy can be tricky.

November 2, 2012

            For a long time women who suffer from depression and become pregnant are told that it is safer for both mother and child for the women to stay on their medication during pregnancy. There is a new study out by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Metrowest Medical Center in Framingham, Massachusetts that is challenging such advice. This article talks about the risks to the pregnancy but also alludes to the fact that each woman is different thus in the same breath telling women that if they are severely depressed they should probably stay on the antidepressants as to try to avoid developing postpartum depression.

            I find this article very frustrating, and I am not an expectant mother with depression in which case this article would be down right confusing. They introduce this new study but hardly discuss what its about, all the while defending the use in some cases. I think this goes back to what we were talking about in class, about context and social comparison. How is a woman supposed to interpret such a jumble of information, especially when she feels like she is severely depressed? How can anyone tell someone that what they are feeling is not accurate, and in the case that a doctor convinces a women to go off anti depressants until after the birth and then that women develops postpartum depression, did that advice do any good for the women, or just the doctors conscience?

            While I do think studies like this are important for the health of current and future generations, I think this article is a prime example of how confusing mental illness is on outsiders and the people suffering alike. I think the medical and sociological fields need to come together to understand how to best provide information for the general population of people who would read such an article and leave with little to no clarity on how to proceed. If there was a way to provide the information from both a medical and sociological approach that supports the facts but also the women in need I would guess that this information would be received much more positively and used in a productive way. 

Hannah Ross

Article link:

Treating Depression for “Invisible” Populations

November 2, 2012

Throughout our Sociology of Mental Health course so far we’ve talked a lot about depression; symptoms, medication, heritability, and therapies. Frankly, the statistic that one in ten American adults report symptoms of depression (lecture) is a bit depressing. That’s why I chose this November 2012 article by Lynne Shallcross, Associate Editor and Senior Writer for Counseling Today as my blog article.

Shallcross interviewed Katherine Walker, an American Counseling Association member and private practitioner who specializes in the treatment of depression. Just like we discussed in lecture, “Walker points to genetics and the individual’s environment as two major factors that determine the likelihood of depression.” Also discussed in lecture, teens and elderly are more at risk than middle-age people. Depression may be camouflaged within moodiness for teens and considered a normal part of aging for elders, making the diagnosis of depression for these “invisible” populations difficult. Behaviors such as wanting to withdraw and hide from responsibilities, experiencing a loss of appetite or emotional eating, feeling worthless, helpless and hopeless, and feeling a general lack of direction, meaning, purpose, or motivation are symptoms of depression as well as typical for teens and elders alike. If you remember being a teen, are the parents of a teen, or have elderly parents/grandparents you may recognize some of these symptoms as general parts of these stages of life. So how do you treat this “invisible” population?

Walker believes “a whole-body approach will provide greater efficacy in the treatment of depression” and does not see medication as the “be-all-and-end-all” of treatment. She encourages clients to see their general practitioner to exclude medical conditions that could be contributing to depression, and sees wellness as a critical piece in treating the whole person. I strongly support Walker’s philosophy of teaming with general practitioners for creating the most beneficial individual treatment plan, particularly for elderly clientele. Knowledge is power and additional medical information could empower all parties involved in a client’s treatment plan. Good self-care including a regular age appropriate exercise program, participating in play (even for the elderly), engaging in healthful nutritional habits, maintaining consistent sleep-wake habits, and nurturing significant human relationships to foster social support (Handbook, 200) are all important aspects of treating depression for the whole body, thus mitigating symptomology.

Walker’s whole body approach to treating depression is exciting to me. With a professional goal of becoming a counselor myself it’s refreshing to see Counseling Today print this article encouraging current practitioners to think outside the “prescription bottle”. I know, for myself, when I engage in the good self-care practices Walker mentions above I feel better physically, which improves my emotional and mental outlook as well. While the “invisible” population could benefit significantly from Walker’s whole-body approach to treat their disorder, I’m suggesting that able-minded people could benefit by embracing her philosophy as well.

 Tawnya Severe

Prisons as Mental Hospitals

November 2, 2012

Prisons as Mental Hospitals
The article I chose was a little outdated, but was regarding an issue that I think is so interesting and under-reported. It spoke about the treatment of prisoners that are mentally ill after they are released from their incarceration.

In the year 1999, Rikers Island prison had over 25,000 mentally ill prisoners, and during their time in jail they can get medication, counseling, and shelter. Many of these people are arrested repeatedly, for acting out or other symptoms of their illness, and then released without any help, only to be picked up again soon after for the same reasons. They said one plan of action was dropping the prisoners off after release with a metro card downtown, which reminded me of the “Greyhound Therapy” we spoke of in class. This is not a solution or a plan of action to help these people, it is only a way of these prisons dumping people and continuing to not take responsibility for their city and its people.

In the article, it says that advocates for these mentally ill prisoners filed a lawsuit to force the city to release prisoners with a plan for the continuation of their therapy and treatment, so that they may get better and not continue on this never-ending cycle. Like we spoke of in class, many times homelessness and mental illness are seen like “hand-in-hand”, so many of these people are not only getting treatment at this prisons, but also shelter that they lack in their daily lives. When they are in Rikers, or other facilities, they are housed and given medication, but when they are dumped out in the downtown square area, they are given no more than a goodbye ticket and enough medication to control their symptoms to “tide them over until they can get a prescription”. But what mentally ill person who is possibly homeless can afford this? No health care, no funds, and a prescription that will cost them much more than they can make on the street in a short time, so they are left with a gap without medication, leading to their next outburst or crime that will land them back in prison where they started. Some people in the article had had 25, 30 stays at the prison, because once they were released they were shortly picked back up to return.

While the city says that it will be too expensive to fulfill these wishes, this article makes the great point that the costs of letting them out is much more! They need to consider the cost it takes to keep returning people to jail, between the police and their stays at the prison, rather than the cost of helping them with a plan to not keep returning them to jail over and over. Also, they need to keep in mind the safety of the other people and property in the city, and how inhumane it is to dump someone back on the streets. I think that the stigma attached to mental illness is still extremely clear here, because if these people had a broken bone or cut, they would be treated and released, not dumped with an open wound. But these prison guards and wardens clearly don’t understand the severity of mental illness, and don’t understand that it is the exact same type of idea, and these people deserve to receive medical attention.

Anna Vendrasco