Friday, March 16, 2012

The Truth about Mental Health in Utah//Hidden Issues

I thought I'd quote from a response in a thread that was basically a reprint of an old attack on Utah and the LDS Church. I'm not copying the name of the poster since the post comes from a closed group.  But what she had to say was right on point:

Ok, I am finally at a computer where I can look things up. You have to be careful when you rely on just one study. It’s better to review multiple studies to see if there is a pattern, I’m going to quote a few things from this paper: “Latter-day Saint social life: social research on the LDS church and its members” (found here:

“Of the 540 studies published between 1923 and 1995, I was able to locate fifty-five studies that dealt specifically with LDS samples. Of these fifty-five studies (seventy-three outcomes), 70 percent of the outcomes indicated a positive relationship between religiosity and mental health variables, 4 percent negative, and 24 percent neutral.” (p. 479)

“While many anecdotal descriptions…, essays (see Burgoyne and Burgoyne 1978), and media specials have discussed the detrimental effects of the LDS lifestyle on mental health (especially that of LDS women), few have any grounding in research evidence. None of the studies included in this analysis that included depression as one of its variables indicated support of an unhealthy relationship between Mormonism and depression.

“Spendlove, West, and Stanish (1984, p.491) looked specifically at LDS women and depression. In a comparison of LDS and non-LDS women living in Salt Lake City, Utah, they concluded that ‘no difference in the prevalence of depression was noted.’” (p. 487-488)

Here’s a link to an article about another study:

“Johnson's conclusions upheld findings of some earlier studies that Mormons have no more depression than does the nation's population as a whole.”

Now, you might ask, why did the original poster, who tends to be rather hostile to the LDS Church, hone in on an old article, singular, that has a concrete assaultive agenda?

I don't think they had malice in mind. Instead, just universal attitudes.  See, e.g.  The only thing I think that the pre-existing attitude did was cause them to miss the hidden issue.

Yes, there is a hidden issue, the discussion masks a completely different one.

I've dealt with a number of doctors who felt that every woman over 40 should be on Prozac or a similar drug (and note, SUIs vary, and regionally you will get strong preferences.  Prozac one area, Paxil another, without, seemingly, much effort made to determine which is more appropriate).*  Waves of that seem to spread in communities.

That is an important health issue.  Should doctors be prescribing serotonin uptake inhibitors on the basis of age and sex as a generally preventative matter on the thesis that every woman over 40 needs medication?

That deserves a lot more discussion.

It is probably not the hidden issue you were expecting either.

*I first ran into this in a practice where one doctor had embraced the concept and the others had stationed a nurse whose job it was to relieve his patients of those prescriptions on the way out the door.  Not so obviously, this led to an ethics consult, where the doctors involved concluded the first doctor was right and every woman over 40 really needed to be medicated.

That was an eye-opener for me.  But what that does is it puts all your female patients of age 40 and up on a monthly cycle to drop by the office, pay a deductible (and let you bill insurance) for a prescription renewal.  Changes a once a year physical/emergency need patient to a regular income stream.

The regional preference in SUIs also will mask total prescription rates.  One area has 300% of another in a particular SUI, but vastly reduced %tages for others.  Does it have 300% the national rate of anti-depressants or does it have just a different mix of which ones are prescribed?

Pharmaceutical sales representatives and industry practices and effectiveness is an entirely different issue.  Only one hidden issue per post, thank you.


SilverRain said...

Maybe one hidden issue is our obsession with happiness.

Howard said...

I don't know other data seems to show there is a depression problem. I don't think this site has an anti-Mormon bias yet it shows Utah as the most depressed state: Utah was the most depressed state. Among adults in Utah, 10.14 percent experienced a depressive episode in the past year and 14.58 percent experienced serious psychological distress. Among adolescents in Utah, 10.14 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Individuals in Utah reported having on average 3.27 poor mental health days in the past 30 days.