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YOUNG PEOPLES VIEWS OF THEIR DEPRESSION IN RELATION TO THE CONCEPT OF ILLNESS Mervi Issakainen Doctoral student Coping with depression in social context.

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Presentation on theme: "YOUNG PEOPLES VIEWS OF THEIR DEPRESSION IN RELATION TO THE CONCEPT OF ILLNESS Mervi Issakainen Doctoral student Coping with depression in social context."— Presentation transcript:

1 YOUNG PEOPLES VIEWS OF THEIR DEPRESSION IN RELATION TO THE CONCEPT OF ILLNESS Mervi Issakainen Doctoral student Coping with depression in social context -project University of Eastern Finland QRMH3 – conference , Nottingham, England

2 This presentation Depression is a common and impairing affliction among Finnish young people (e.g. Raitasalo & Maaniemi 2009). Young people tend to hide their feelings of depression and do not seek help (e.g. Draucker 2005; Wisdom et al. 2006). The aim of the study: to understand how young people with experiences of depression view the conception of depression as an illness. Having experiences of depression is defined by the young people themselves.

3 Data collection The study is conducted via internet -> a website for data collection Participants: 82 young people (75 women and 7 men between 14 – 34 years of age) Methods: - written narratives (N=61, the length varies from couple of sentences to over 7 pages) - 2 online group discussions (348 messages including mine, from one sentence to 1,5 pages) - 4 online individual interviews (67 messages including mine, from one sentence to 1,5 pages)

4 Data analysis The concept of illness occurs 79 times -> the analysis concentrated on those parts of the data Thematic analysis: - coding the data by searching themes reflecting the views of depression as an illness - organizing the codes under different themes and sub-themes - re-coding the data based on the detailed coding frame

5 Results The cultural conceptions of (young peoples) depression: - Depression is a mental illness - Depression is a matter of pulling oneself together The young peoples response to these conceptions: - Depression is an illness as any other

6 Depression as a mental illness The cultural conception of depression which means (to the young people): -being pushed outside the normal peoples decent life -experiences and fear of being labeled as mad

7 It was mentioned, in some earlier writing, that someone has heard (about himself) that the X will probably murder everyone soon. Ive, also, heard someone saying, as a joke, though, that Im the next school killer… (26-year-old man, 2. group discussion)

8 Depression as a matter of pulling oneself together The cultural conception of depression which means (to the young people): - feeling guilty and being accused of - experiences and fear of not being listened to or taken seriously

9 I never answered, why I dont want other people to know about my depression and, I believe, I figured the answer now. The biggest fear is, probably, that my illness would be belittled by saying it will go away, by commenting with a joke etc. Sometimes, I really have to fight to make my partner understand how bad my situation really is. (20-year-old woman, individual interview)

10 The young peoples own views of their depression: - it is a serious illness - nothing less - it is only an illness - nothing more --> depression is an illness as any other --> the needed compassion and time to get their life back on track Depression as an illness as any other

11 In my opinion, it should be talked about, a lot, so that young people would get it that it is not teen age angst, but a serious illness. Thank you. (16-year-old woman, narrative)

12 ...Ive, also, heard someone saying, as a joke, though, that I´m the next school killer. I would never want to hurt anyone else, though, Im feeling bad. I dont hate the world or blame it for my condition. This is only an illness from which I, surely, am capable of recovering some day. (26-year-old man, 2. group discussion)

13 Conclusions The cultural conceptions of depression seem to support understanding it either as a mental illness or as a matter of pulling oneself together. Especially, young peoples depression tend to be belittled. The young people sought a compromise between the extreme conceptions by hoping that depression would be viewed as an illness as any other. Experiences of depression are legitimized by comparing them to physical illnesses (cf. Lafrance 2007). However, young people do not, necessarily, subscribe to the biomedical conception of depression.

14 References Draucker, C. B The interaction patterns between depressed young people and the important adults in their lives. Qualitative Health Research 15 (7), 942 – 963. Lafrance, M. N A bitter pill: A discursive analysis of womens medicalized accounts of depression. Journal of Health Psychology 12 (1), Raitasalo, R. & Maaniemi, K Mielenterveyden häiriöt aiheuttavat nuorille yhä enemmän sairauspoissaoloja. Sosiaalivakuutus 47 (4), 22 – 24. Wisdom, J. P.; Clarke, G. N. & Green, C. A What teens want: Barriers to seeking care for depression. Administration and Policy in Mental Health Services Research 33 (2), 133 – 145.

15 Thank you!

16 Ethical considerations The website provided information about the study Participants used pseudonyms I do not report the pseudonyms, because, the same pseudonym may be used in some other online environment representing individuals online identity (Kuula (2006). The data between the participants computer and the service was encrypted by using the SSL-certificate


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