Is Depression A Uniquely Western Affliction?

Casey Schwartz at Bookforum:

This is the familiar arc that Jonathan Sadowsky traces in his new book The Empire of Depression: A New History. But Sadowsky, a medical historian at Case Western, aims to show how the Western notion of depression is making its way around the globe, threatening to displace other conceptions of the disease. “Western psychiatry often treats anxiety and depression as separate things that often occur together. In many places, though, anxiety and depression are seen as part of one thing,” he writes. And the sense of what causes depression differs significantly, too. Whereas in the West, depression is most often understood as having a physical reason, be it genes, or chemistry, “globally, it is more common to consider depression to be at once psychological, social, and physical.”

The Western model even threatens to stomp out others’ subjective experiences. Sadowsky points to the Punjabi idiom, “sinking heart,” a condition which overlaps with depression, but is not quite identical to it.

more here.