I have heard a number of critics say depression is an ailment of western developed countries and third world countries should not concern themselves with it. After all, they are faced with other pressing issues. I believe this assertion is false, and this perception stems from the fact that there are more research and discussion on the topic, and as a result, there are more treatment options available in developed countries. This only implies that you have more people reporting to facilities for diagnosis and treatment, which advertently increase the number of cases statistically.
Something can also be learnt from the cultural determinants of disease complaints. For most Africans, particularly, Ghanaians, clinical depression simply doesn’t exist within our realm of possibilities. We are supposed to be strong, cheery people. And our culture favours certain patterns of illness such as malaria, fevers, food poisoning, body pains, and others rather than attributing depression to be the basis of our “not-feeling-good”. Plus anything else we can’t explain is attributed to witchcraft or bad lifestyle choices. And in most instances, these generalized conclusions mask the depression leading to its misdiagnosis.
“Depression is the result of a genetic vulnerability, which is presumably evenly distributed in the population and triggering circumstances, which are likely to be more severe for people who are impoverished. And yet it turns out that poor people are mostly not being treated for depression.” –Andrew Solomon
Whether rich or poor, no one is spared of the challenges of life. The difference may be how we respond to these life events as and when they occur. Depression cuts across class boundaries, but its treatment doesn’t and this variation may make recovery difficult for a poor person who cannot afford treatment.