Women and Depression: Antecedents, Consequences, and Interventions

Women and Depression: Antecedents, Consequences, and Interventions

Women and Depression: Antecedents, Consequences, and Interventions

Women and Depression: Antecedents, Consequences, and Interventions

Synopsis

The purpose of this book is to present a spectrum of women's experiences with depression. The book is unique in presenting both qualitative and quantitative studies on various stages of women's experiences with depression including its psychological and social antecedents, its adverse consequences, and the impact of psychological and community interventions. Our aim has been to present some of the recurrent themes and vital links in this chain of experiences. One such common theme has to do with the importance of acquiring and maintaining control over the evaluation of self-worth by the individual. Stressful circumstances and negative social encounters may produce the greatest harm and consequent depression by depriving individuals' control over the processes involved in the evaluation of self-worth.

This book will be of interest to clinical psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, mental health practitioners and community service providers.

This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community.

Excerpt

Stressful life circumstances, a mong other psychosocial factors, are important contributors to depression in women (Mazure, Keita, & Blehar, 2002). However, they may not be the primary antecedents of depression. A key finding of past research is that depression-prone individuals experience difficulties in the control and regulation of their self-worth (Roberts & Monroe, 1999). Depressed women tend to adopt socially-derived and externally-imposed cognitive constructs or frames of reference (i.e., goals and evaluation criteria) by which they evaluate their self-worth (Jack & Dill, 1992). Research findings support this view (Moretti, Rein, & Wiebe, 1998). Social expectations and social power determine which cognitive constructs or frames of reference we use to evaluate ourselves (Jack, 1999). Consistent with this proposition, the studies in this issue suggest that women who are vulnerable for depression are trapped within a particular frame of reference whereby the self is seen as rejected, subordinate, and a passive victim of hostile circumstances rather than as a free and wilful agent. Depressed women lose the social struggle for control of the frames of reference by which they evaluate the self. Such notions go beyond psychological constructs such as learned helplessness in contextualizing the origins of vulnerability for depression. Vulnerable individuals are unable to resist the devaluation of their self-worth by the use of externally imposed social categories. The findings of the studies in this issue have implications for effective psychological, social, and community interventions for depression in general, and depressed women in particular. In addition to attempting to remove the stressors and negative views that precipitate depression, psychological interventions need to encourage and empower individuals to own and control the processes of self-evaluation. One way to do this is to support individuals to choose and own the frames of reference by which they determine their self-worth. Education in the schools and public education in the community should not only encourage achievement and personal success but also should teach individuals that they are in charge when it comes to evaluating their worth as persons. Community agencies and groups need to consider whether their interventions support individuals to acquire control over frames of reference by which they evaluate . . .

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