Situating Sadness: Women and Depression in Social Context

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It is well known that depression occurs more often in women than in men. It is the most commonly encountered mental health problem among women and ranks overall as one of the most important women's health problems. Researchers have studied depression a great deal, yet women's depression has rarely been the primary focus. The contexts of women's lives which might contribute to their depression are not often addressed by the mental health establishment, which tends to focus on biological factors. Situating Sadness sheds light on the influence of sociocultural factors, such as economic distress, child-bearing or child-care difficulties, or feelings of powerlessness which may play a significant role, and points to the importance of context for understanding women's depression. Situating Sadness draws on research in the United States and other parts of the world to look at depression through the eyes of women, exploring what being depressed is like in diverse social and cultural circumstances. It demonstrates that understanding depression requires close attention to the social context in which women become depressed.