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Cultural Understanding Of Depression Diagnosis And Treatment

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In 1996, the World Bank published a report on the global burden of disease implicating the importance of the realization that the impact of depression worldwide is vast (Scott et al, 2003). In 1990, 11 million sufferers of depression were identified in the US alone (Scott et al, 2003). The criteria for the diagnosis and treatment of depression are flexible and are not based on a standard or specific range of symptoms, unlike many illnesses or disorders. This may be accountable to the fact that there are numerous forms of depression including unipolar or bipolar disorder and dysthymia (longer in duration and less severe than major depression (Lon Schneider, 1991; NHS, 2010).

Examples of symptoms which form the diagnostic criteria for depression include depressed mood; fatigue or loss of energy and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, which may be noticed in most circumstances through General Practitioners. In turn, a diagnosis is generated following an interview of the patient with the application of one or more diagnostic classification systems (Lon Schneider, 1991; NHS, 2010). Similarly, treatment of depression is also multifaceted, involving talking therapies; the use of a variety of medication, dependent on the form of depression, and self-help (Cuijpers et al, 2008; NHS, 2010).

Having several alternatives for treatment, practitioners should take into consideration cultural factors that may be influential in an individual’ s depression. Culture is defined as “ the collective programming of the mind which distinguished the members of one human group from another… Culture, in this sense, includes systems of values; and values are among the building blocks of culture” (Hofstede, 1994). Another definition is “ the learned, shared, and transmitted values, beliefs, norms, and lifeways of a particular group that guides their thinking, decisions, and actions in patterned ways” (Leininger, 2001, p.

From these definitions, one can perceive how much influence culture has on people.

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