Saturday, August 6, 2011
THE BROWN FAMILY, Polygamists, Utah, and Depression
We have speculated that Meri, Janelle and/or Hunter were/are/may be depressed? But did you know that a 2001 study found that antidepressants are prescribed in Utah nearly twice as frequently as they are, on average, in the rest of the U.S.?
The speculation has been that Utah’s predominantly Mormon religion and culture places unique pressures on women (who suffer from depression twice as frequently as men) to publicly present “a happy face, whatever may be happening privately”, forcing them into depression and onto antidepressants. To be fair, there may be many other reasons: a smaller gene pool with a high genetic predisposition for depression, greater willingness and/or awareness to seek care for the same or less severe symptoms, a higher willingness of Utah doctors to prescribe antidepressants, etc. I just think it is interesting.
I found conflicting statistics on suicide that say Utah has between the 7th to the 11th highest suicide rate (per capita) in the U.S., depending upon the year you are looking at. For the past four decades now, Utah has ranked in the top ten for numbers of suicides in the nation. This is interesting because usually religions persons have a lower suicide rate and Utah is a highly religious state, being 70% Mormon and 42% being actively practicing LDS. What was most revealing was that the rate of suicide in Utah for females between the ages of 15-44 is four times the national average.
I wonder why this could be? Mormonism, low income, high unemployment, large family size, marriage at a young age, a high incidence of drinking milk? We must be careful not to jump to conclusions because the causes may be complex and inter-connected or not immediately visible. But it sure looks suspicious to me.
I cannot imagine that suppressing your natural emotions is healthy, no matter what is said about making yourself a better person through the plural marriage lifestyle. Our emotions and nature are endowed by the Creator, and are also an internal “warning system”. I think that trying to train your warning system out of yourself as is required in the polygamous lifestyle creates tremendous internal pressures. Depression, mental illness and heaven knows what all are predictable results.
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