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... that this immense burden may be lifted. An example would be when Figureoa began smoking again as a stress reliever. Emotional stress affects these women's physical bodies and many times they experience side effects of anti-depressants even before going on antidepressants. In his article "Depression," Cole Vaughn discusses some specific ailments from emotional stress: You gain a better understanding of many LDS women's psychosomatic problems including auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and eczema, which develop when these women do not have control of their individual lives. (par.
8) For example, Figureoa carried a wet wash rag with her to wipe the away the constant beads of sweat that formed on her forehead and neck due to side effects of stress that were worsened by antidepressants. Antidepressant drugs are prescribed in Utah more often than in any other state, at a rate Sroufe 6nearly twice the national average. Utah's high usage was cited by one of the study's authors as the most surprising finding to emerge from the data. The study was released during the summer of 2001 and updated in January 2002. Other states with high antidepressant use were Maine and Oregon. Utah's rate of antidepressant use was twice the rate of California and nearly three times the rates in New York and New Jersey (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Egan 2).
The study did not break down drug use by gender, but according to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, about twice as many women as men suffer from depressive disorders. Discussion of the study's results inevitably falls along Utah's traditional fault lines. Some suggest that Utah's unique Mormon culture-seventy percent of the state's population belongs to the church-requires perfection and the public presentation of a happy face, whatever may be happening privately. The main argument caused by this study is that women in the church are beset by particular pressures and are not encouraged to acknowledge their struggles but are instead forced to turn to antidepressants. The study was conducted by Express Scripts Inc., a St. Louis-based pharmaceutical company, which tracked prescriptions of twenty-four drug types in about two million people selected at random from its forty-eight million members. Those studied were enrolled in privately managed health-care programs, and the information gleaned from the study is intended for use by HMOs. Medicare and Medicaid recipients were not included in the study (Egan 2).
Emily Cox of Express Scripts, and one of the five authors of the study said, "There's a lot of inferences being drawn from this. We can't say if there is a higher probability for depression or depressive symptoms. You may have a population that seeks care for less severe symptoms. You may have a medical community that prescribes more readily" (qtd. in Egan 3). Sroufe 7 Cindy Mann, who lives in Logan, said after 15 years of taking antidepressants and not feeling better, she finally quit in July of 2001.
She now encourages others to do likewise, but she's pessimistic (Cart 5). Mann described the Salt Lake Valley: It's like Happy Valley here. It's a scary place sometimes. People don't talk about their problems. Everything is always rosy. That's how we got ourselves into this mess--we're good at ignoring things (Cart 5). Figureoa was diagnosed with lung disease several years before her death as a result of her lifelong smoking habit. She explained that smoking helped combat the feelings of loneliness and helplessness that her medications didn't eliminate.
Figureoa blamed the Church for ignoring her problem yet admitted most of the blame rested on her shoulders for not bringing any of her problems to anybody's attention until she was out of control. Women such as Figureoa internalize so much more self-deprecation due to these symptoms, that it has given them another reason to reach for Prozac, or what is most difficult in these cases- a phone or a computer to contact an LDS therapist who would be able to understand their plight (Moore). In his article "Awake My Soul: Dealing Firmly with Depression" Steve Gilliland says that discouragement, feelings of inadequacy, and the yearning for immediate perfection are Satan's method's, not the Lord's (37). He urges church members to "turn off negative voices" and view their world rationally-oftentimes one will find that for as many things are going wrong, just as many are going right (37). Gilliland offers a list of suggestions to control or even eradicate depression: A depressed person usually punishes himself by doing few things he enjoys. Try Sroufe 8 new things, but also make a list of things you used to like doing: rearranging your furniture, making fancy snacks, washing your hair, eating out, visiting friends, discussing politics, playing ping-pong, telling someone you love him, going shopping, doing favors for people, and those all-important spiritual things-meditating, praying, reading scriptures (39). Depression is a very treatable illness.
More than 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services). Despite these statistics, more than one-half of women surveyed in a study for the National Institute for Mental Health cited denial as a barrier to treatment, while 41 percent of women surveyed cited embarrassment or shame as barriers to treatment. Unfortunately, another one-half of women believe it is normal for a woman to be depressed and that treatment is not necessary. Again, more than one-half of women believe depression is a normal part of aging (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services). When it came to down to measuring self-esteem, Sherrie Mills Johnson, a sociologist and member of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists, reported that LDS women scored roughly 10 percent below their national counterparts in rating their ability to "do things as well as other people." Mills Johnson said the findings 'could be a reflection of the higher standards that are espoused' by the church.
Utah's large families-the biggest in the nation according to the 2000 Census-are often cited as a contributing factor to depression among LDS women (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services). Depression can become a female weakness; according to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime. Sroufe 9It's far too easy for LDS women striving for the perfection to slip into the muddy quagmire of depression under the stresses of large families and many church obligations. Whether or not women will remain depressed requires the effort each woman-not each man-to "answer that question for herself, based on her inherent right to seek out information and decide what makes sense to her, allowing each woman to gain the needed and biologically necessary, control of her own mental and physical health" (Dickey). Works Cited Cart, Julie.
"Study Finds Utah Leads Nation in Antidepressant Use." Los Angeles Times 20 Feb. 2002: A4.Dickey, John H. Telephone interview. 17 Aug. 2003.Egan, Dan. "The Painful Side of Perfection." Salt Lake City Tribune 22 Feb. 2000: D1.Figureoa, Anna.
Personal interviews. 13,15,17 Aug. 2003. Gilliland, Steve. "Awake My Soul: Dealing Firmly with Depression." Ensign Aug.1978: 37-40. Mills Johnson, Sherrie.
Remarks at Assoc.of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists. Salt Lake City, Utah. 2 Apr. 2004. . Moore, Carrie A.
"Study Elevates LDS Women" Deseret News 2 Apr. 2004. 10 June 2004. . Oaks, Dallin H. "Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall." Ensign Oct.
1994: 11-14.Ogden, Deborah. Telephone interview.15 Aug. 2003. Thompson, Will L. "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel." Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1985.United States. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
LDS Women and Depression. August 2003. 10 June 2004. N. Pag. . Vaughn, Cole.
"Depression." Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 17.3 (June 2003). 11 June 2004. ..
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