On SAGE Insight: Why are depression and anxiety rates in the West greater than in Asia?

Article title: Exploring the East-West Divide in Prevalence of Affective Disorder: A Case for Cultural Differences in Coping With Negative Emotion

From Personality and Social Psychology Review

Lifetime rates of clinical depression and anxiety in the West tend to be approximately 4 to 10 times greater than rates in Asia. This study explores the reason for this cross-cultural difference. This analysis is used to develop a model aiming to partially explain, and draw lessons from, cultural differences in prevalence rates. The evidence reviewed supports the suggestion that the way people think about negative emotions influences how adaptively they cope with those emotions, influencing their impact on mental health. The differential value placed on emotion in the West has become a double edged sword, with the relatively high value placed on positive emotions increasing the discomfort and difficulty of coping with unwanted negative emotions.

 

Abstract

Lifetime rates of clinical depression and anxiety in the West tend to be approximately 4 to 10 times greater than rates in Asia. In this review, we explore one possible reason for this cross-cultural difference, that Asian cultures think differently about emotion than do Western cultures and that these different systems of thought help explain why negative affect does not escalate into clinical disorder at the same rate. We review research from multiple disciplines—including cross-cultural psychology, social cognition, clinical psychology, and psychiatry—to make the case that the Eastern holistic principles of contradiction (each experience is associated with its opposite), change (the world exists in a state of constant flux), and context (the interconnectedness of all things) fundamentally shape people’s experience of emotions in different cultures. We then review evidence for how these cultural differences influence how successfully people use common emotion regulation strategies such as rumination and suppression.

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Article details:
Exploring the East-West Divide in Prevalence of Affective Disorder: A Case for Cultural Differences in Coping With Negative Emotion
June De Vaus, Matthew J. Hornsey, Peter Kuppens, Brock Bastian
Article first published online: October 16, 2017 
DOI: 10.1177/1088868317736222
From Personality and Social Psychology Review


     
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