UVU professor's study puts focus on LDS women and depression

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  • YoungGuy66 Ogden, UT
    Feb. 6, 2013 12:33 a.m.

    I'm a 24-year-old,single guy. I really try not to judge people, but I really have noticed a problem with the women around me in Ogden. If I look around my neighborhood at all of the married couples, I really see a problem. Good, hard-working, normal men with depressed or really strange women. Obviously, there are a lot of great women who are strong and normal,so I'm not trying to be extreme. But, what worries me about it is their husbands are very calm, quiet, great guys. So, why are their wives emotionally falling apart? And, let's not forget the single women. Almost every post on Facebook is about how hard life is or about them having weaknesses, or them bearing their testimonies. Let me tell you, that is not attractive. Facebook is not the place for you to be posting all this. 99% of Mormon guys just want a girl that is stable and can keep a peaceful home. We don't expect them to be perfect, but just to be calm and collected.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Feb. 5, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    THank you DCS. I've always believed what you proved -- that there is NO difference between LDS woman and non-LDS woman in terms of depression. The one difference that is clear is that LDS woman don't rely on alcohol or illegal drugs to numb them or to escape the hardships of life. Another difference that I've noticed (as a convert) is that LDS women are much more self-aware and self-actualized than non LDS women. These two factors alone explain higher rates of depression.

  • olderman ,
    Feb. 5, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    The one flaw to this study. She said the women volunteered unstead of being randomly selected
    as they should have been from a larger pool.

  • gardninmom Lindon, UT
    Feb. 5, 2013 8:54 a.m.

    Recently I attended a symposium on Suicide prevention. They showed a map of suicides and their prevalence across the Nation, and it was very obvious that the higher the altitudes, the higher the rate of suicide. "How sad" they said, "to think that someone who committed suicide would likely not have done so had they just been born at sea level." (Oxygen deprivation seems to have an effect.)

    I know 5 Utah women who suffer from serious depression--two who were not raised LDS but were raised in abusive homes. They believed everyone else was having a perfect life and if they just got out of their abusive home and into a temple marriage everything would be perfect for them also. One is not a Mormon and claims "the tougher things get, the more I hit the wine bottle." One is from a first generation Mormon family from the South whose father was domineering and physically abusive. (This article did list a history of abuse as a commonality). Only one of the five is from a two or more generation LDS "Utah" family with no history of abuse. It seems there are many more facets that need to be studied.

  • bc_pg pleasant grove, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    I disagree it's merely the culture and misunderstanding that cause this.

    Spencer Kimball's "The Miracle of Forgiveness" is exhibit A. Mormonism essentially denies the power of the atonement in cleansing sin. You essentially have to pay for you sins in addition to Christ.

    At the core is "Are you good enough to get the the Celestial Kingdom?" Accepting Christ isn't enough - you also have to be valiant enough. How valiant? No one ones but if you aren't quite good enough there goes eternity. If even if you are good enough what about your loved ones? Certainly you will fail to be a good enough Mom & spouse to save all of your children & husband & grandchildren. If you can just done a little more, been a little more faithful with scriptures, maybe your children wouldn't have gone astray.

    D&C 82:7 ...but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.

    This creates a cycle of hopelessness. If you aren't perfect repentance is meaningless. Not only did you fail by sinning today - all your previous sins are back with a vengeance.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Feb. 4, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    Utah - #1 per capita LDS in the United States.
    Utah - #1 in anti-depressant medication use.
    Utah - #1 in medication over-dose.
    Utah - #1 in on-line porn.
    Utah - #4 in suicide.

    We all like to hear the good news,
    but ignorning the bad and simply pretending it doesn't exist doesn't make it go away or get any better.
    In fact, ignoring it will just make Utah - dare I say it - get even MORE depressed.

  • DistantThunder Vincentown, NJ
    Feb. 4, 2013 9:35 a.m.

    Part 3

    Motherhood is such a heroic and emotionally and physically demanding job that is unappreciated and unacknowledged on a day to day basis. Getting a card, once year, isn't going to cut it. We need flowers, and date nights, and massages, and someone to cook for us occasionally - and special status as someone who never has to carry in the groceries - (that's what older children can be useful for.) How do we know that this depression - isn't just caregiver burnout? And there are solutions to caregiver burnout including extraordinary self-care.

    We live in unusual times, and the design of motherhood is different in many ways than it use to be throughout history. Instead of bringing depression out of the shadows - let's bring mothers out of the shadows and develop forums and opportunities for them to interact and get some recognition for their struggles, sacrifices and accomplishments. Then, as a byproduct, I think we'd see less depressive symptoms.

  • DistantThunder Vincentown, NJ
    Feb. 4, 2013 9:35 a.m.

    Part 2

    We also have fewer and fewer places to meet and socialize. Women used to meet at the bridge club or quilting bee or the market. Most people lived closer to extended family. But go to the grocery store and most of the people you see are total strangers and there is no chance to talk. The popular culture has so denigrated motherhood as something that is a default for the stupid and lazy, that mothers often feel as though we occupy the lowest rungs of social strata. We have the social standing of a kitchen maid in Downton Abbey - so of course that is painful and discouraging.

  • DistantThunder Vincentown, NJ
    Feb. 4, 2013 9:32 a.m.

    I'm not a perfectionist - I'm conscientious. And isn't that a good thing? The kids have regular meals, and the bill get paid, and I've only gotten a few speeding tickets. Those are good things. But when I can't do them for health reasons, it's frustrating and upsetting. It took me a long time to learn to recruit help, to learn how to say: I'm in too much physical pain to grocery shop - and I need help. Sometimes the accommodations lasted years.

    I'm convinced that part of the issue is that the job of modern motherhood is just too big for one person. I know a pregnant mom, temporarily living with her in-laws who said it has saved her sanity to have help. I agree. When I had the help of a nanny for year, I felt so much better. What if it is simply an issue of too much to do? Like a waitress with 30 tables to serve? Too much for the individual mother to deal with?

  • Miskky salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 3, 2013 6:24 p.m.

    You are correct in your comments. Our society is overwhelmed by messages about how great women are and how bad men are. This even happens from the pulpits of the LDS Church and perhaps many other churches as well.

    "Study researchers have found that broad generalizations about the likely success of a social group -- of boys or girls, for example -- actually undermined both boys' and girls' performance on a challenging activity." The study further states, "These findings suggest we should be cautious in making pronouncements about the abilities of social groups such as boys and girls. Not only is the truth of such statements questionable, but they also send the wrong message about what it takes to succeed, thereby undermining achievement -- even when they are actually meant as encouragement."

    The expectations of women are far to high because of all these types of messages coming from so many parts of our society. The guilt comes as individuals see themselves falling short of these perceived group qualities.

    Kill the messages... don't kill the messengers... just re-train the messengers to deliver the "real" true message.

  • DCS Salt lake City, UT
    Feb. 3, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    In 1982 I along with others published a study looking at the risk factors and prevalence of depresseion in Mormon women. The subject was a topic in the local news at the time but there had been no research done. We made every effort we could think of to eliminate bias from the study by randomly selecting participants and by insuring that neither the women conducting the interviews or the study participants knew what the study was about except that we were looking about health issues in women. 193 women participated. We found that there was no difference between Mormon and Non-Mormon women in terms of prevalence of depression and that the factors that related to depression were very similar in the two groups. There has been no study to date that I am aware of that shows a causal relationship between being a Mormon and having depression or any other mental health problem. Perfectionism is likely a problem among many people who struggle with mental health problems. To truely understand that it is a unique problem for Mormon women one would have to conduct a prospective comparative study. This has not been done to date.

  • heidi ho Fort Collins, CO
    Feb. 2, 2013 10:58 p.m.

    I grew up in Utah and was very depressed my whole life. I had to get out and get into a 12 step program where I learned to take care of myself, not compare myself to others, learn to listen to my intuition, and seek to please my Heavenly Father first. He loves me unconditionally and that is all that matters. I can cut my family a break too. I used to expect perfection of everyone and was always sadly disappointed. I know the Church is true, and seek to love myself and others instead of judging them.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    The believers sound like they are trying to convince themselves...

    Those poor arguments sure aren't convincing anyone else.

  • lqqk pocatello, ID
    Feb. 2, 2013 11:35 a.m.

    "a Scientist" is probably a man and does not have a clue what women go thru. The two women he mentions were not members of any church that I know of. I am also sure from my own family experience that they suffered from depression brought about by hormonal changes, such as bearing children and the resulting changes brought about by that. I have seen first hand what can happen with such hormonal changes. I have someone in my family that has had this happen several times. It was very scary to see her like that. She heard voices telling her to do things to her children. We were lucky in our family that the problem was discovered before too much damage or death happened. She was locked up and treated with medication until her hormones leveled out. We keep an eye on her but with age this has changed. As far as I'm concerned Andrea Yates had no idea what she was doing should have had medical treatment and been confined to a mental health facility.

  • JanSan Pocatello, ID
    Feb. 2, 2013 12:25 a.m.

    I am reading a book written by a LDS woman doctor and it is address to everyone but mostly to LDS women about depression. It has been very interesting learning about depression and how it literally effects the brain and how some are more at risk in getting depression. I think that women of all areas are more prone to becoming depressed mostly because they are as a whole much more emotional about things then are men and have a greater tendency of holding things in.
    In my ward in Relief Society we have talked about this often and I know that in "Time out for Women" they have talked about it as have the General Authorities.
    We all need to realize that God does not demand perfection of us. We have ages of life after this life to reach perfection. He does expect us to do the best that we can and realizes that we will fall. That is the purpose of the Atonement. So many of us believe in Christ, but how many of us TRULY believe Christ? Not only our sins but the pains of life can be swallowed up in HIS eternal love.

  • Jaime Lee Bonberger Houston, TX
    Feb. 1, 2013 6:42 p.m.

    A Scientist

    Andrea Yates was diagnosed with mental illness early in her marriage. It was her illness that drove her crime, not some conscious devotion to her religion.

    To what religion was the genocidist Pol Pot devoted to? How about the genocidist Joseph Stalin? And Mr Hitler? The answer is that none but Hitler even recognized that there was a God, and Hitler's motivation was entirely racial and nationalistic. He wanted to be the god of the people much like KIm Jong-on is today in N Korea.

    So, if the greatest mass murderers of all time had no religion in their lives, why would we ever want to believe like they did?

    Another point of interest: What were the religious inspirations of the Sandy Hook killer and the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre killer? Again, answer: None.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 5:24 p.m.

    When I gave birth I was handed a t shirt that said "hypocrite" (figuratively speaking), I wear it often- raising my voice to tell my kids to stop yelling, admonish them to get enough sleep and then staying up until 2am reading Harry Potter, sneaking the milk chocolate chips I bought for Family Home Evening treats, the list goes on.

    I used to bake bread before I had to work outside the home. I'm still trying to loose the baby fat from giving birth to my youngest - who is now 12. (After 12 years can it still be considered baby fat?:) )

    So what?

    I am sorry there are LDS who feel that falling short of perfection means they are unworthy of happiness. The LDS religion does not teach this, no matter how many people with an ax to grind believe it is so.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 4:24 p.m.

    As someone who has spent his life observing the habits of LDS women, here's one bit of advice I would give to all of you: De-clutter your lives. Many of you have so much going on that you're not getting enough sleep or enough "down time". You can't go to EVERY relief society activity, EVERY ward temple night, EVERY canning assignment, etc. Church by itself can become a full-time job if you allow it to. Likewise, your kids don't have to be in EVERY activity known to man.

    In my house, our kids are allowed to do one extracurricular activity at a time (i.e. one sport or one musical instrument) plus scouts. And my wife only goes to the optional activities when she feels like it. We both get 8 hours of sleep a night.

    Bottom line: You don't have to do everything (or serve everybody) right now. Slow down.

  • ldsrebirth Virginia Beach, VA
    Feb. 1, 2013 3:14 p.m.

    As perfection is concerned. The church teaches that the lord knows are capabalites towards perfection. Every member has a different perfection level, and it's up to the member to find there own level of perfection. I just try to take it one step at a time. My two years in Utah there were I met alot of perfection zealots, and some of these good members appeared to be depressed, and others overbearing. I would contribute it to being a Utah saint. My ward in Virginia Beach is very relaxed, and the people appear to be happier overall.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 1, 2013 2:35 p.m.

    From Neal A. Maxwell:

    "Whenever Church members speak of consecration, it should be done reverently while acknowledging that each of us "come[s] short of the glory of God," some of us far short (Rom. 3:23). Even the conscientious have not arrived, but they sense the shortfall and are genuinely striving. Consolingly, God's grace flows not only to those "who love [Him] and keep all [His] commandments, "; but likewise to those "that [seek] so to do" (D&C 46:9)."

    In our striving, our perfected selves, it is good to recall that we are "made perfect" (D&C 128). Moroni tells us:

    "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ . . . "

    Our task is to deny ourselves of ungodliness and to love God as described. We will then one day be perfected by Christ.

    We are to be valiant and strive to do our best. Nothing more.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 2:07 p.m.

    I wouldn't be surprised if simple fatigue had a lot to do with this. More kids = less sleep = less emotional reserves.

    "Scientist," take your village atheism back to the basement where it belongs. For every nutcase who fixates on religion, there are multiple nutcases who have nothing to restrain them. Like, for instance, *virtually every spree killer that ever lived,* not one of whom, as far as I can tell, was a believing churchgoer. They're secular liberals to a man. This is not a coincidence.

  • Sal Provo, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 1:36 p.m.

    I've been in the Church all my life and suffer from mild depression. It's nonsense that Church teachings on perfection lead to depression. It's the misinterpretation of Church teachings that might contribute to depression. I have never felt the need to be perfect. I'm assuming that these 20 active LDS women don't know Church doctrine. If they would study the scriptures it would give them some spiritual therapy and help lessen their depression.

    Feb. 1, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    It's a great time for members of the LDS Church to realize that the gospel, the Church, and Mormon culture are three separate things. Culture is a byproduct of living and working in close proximity and has sadly not everything in common with the gospel of Jesus Christ which is eternal truth and love. It is most pronounced in areas with high LDS populations (I've lived among many different kinds of LDS populations). The Church tries to teach the gospel, changing policies at times to best meet that objective and should not be blamed for the culture either.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    Haven't I said, religion poisons everything? Apparently, even the minds and emotions of women in Utah.

    Who knew?

    Oh, that's right, a lot of people have known that Utah leads the country in abuse of prescription medications and consumption of anti-depressants.

    The false claims of "revealed" religions, especially when introduced at an early age, cause much mental anguish and pain to individuals and negative effect on society. For instance, Andrea Yates murdered her five little children because she thought Satan had possessed her and was soon going to possess her children. She figured if she murdered her children before "the age of accountability" they would all go to heaven.

    Deanna Laney murdered two of her little boys by stoning them to death, then severely handicapped her third little boy, because she thought God wanted her to do it to "prove her complete and unconditional faith in Him" like Abraham who was commanded to execute his son.

    "Belief in a cruel god makes for cruel men." -- Thomas Payne

    Belief in the irrational makes for irrational people.

  • CarolynHoward-Johnson Los Angeles, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 11:52 a.m.

    Lynette's comment, "I put pressure on myself to be that perfect Mormon" is a perfect example of how many Mormon women (and Utah women we well as some women everywhere) put even more pressure on themselves for something that is at least in part the fault of the culture. It's a theme that runs through my first novel. This is not unique to Utah by any means. It can be influenced by families and may be a matter of degree. Many women in many cultures and many religions tend to do the same thing, as do some men.

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    Recognizing our weaknesses brings needed humility when worshiping God.

    Examples from the Book of Mormon are the brother of Jared who goes before the Lord and starts his prayer by saying that he knows that God is holy but because of the fall of Adam that he recognizes that his thoughts are evil continually nevertheless God has commanded him to pray and ask for what is needed.
    His prayer was more than answered when the Lord brought him back into his presence to teach and edify him.
    Meekness and lowliness of heart, after a remission of sins, are also taught in the Book of Mormon as a prerequisite to having a visitation of the Holy Ghost which comforter fills your heart with hope and PERFECT love.... Maybe that is the perfection we are looking for?

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    On the inside, I am screaming "Yes! Yes! I'm not the only one!". This article is sooo spot on! I am dealing with this exact scenario. It actually lifts the fog a little bit helping me to realize I'm not alone!!!

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Feb. 1, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    "They think they can't make a mistake and so they become hyper-competitive and anxious. If you think you can make no mistake, you're setting yourself up for failure."


    My take --
    Mormons outside of Utah don't suffer this - so then, "why"....

    She said it, but missed it -- hyper-competitive.
    Utah is hyper hyper-competitive.
    Kids have it beat into their heads from time they are born.

    From sports to dance.
    Football to Cheerleader.
    Gynmastics to soccor,
    music to drama...

    "My kid's #1, the BEST!" - observe parents from the sidelines.

    And kids don't want to let their parents down.
    They learn to only feel love when they are good, and rejection when bad.
    They don't want to let people down.
    People will talk.

    It will never be enough,
    and they will never be perfect.

    So the real driver is parent's hyper-competitiveness --

    and, those kids grow up, and the cycle grows.

    They have not learned the Gospel of "Repentance, Forgiveness, and Acceptance".

    They fall prey to - if you're not #1, not perfect, then you are a looser, you let everyobody down, and you are not Celestial.

    Get over it, people.

  • mountaingirl44 Herriman, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    I'm glad to see another study address this sad issue. And yes it's true, Mormon women are depressed. I am not originally from Utah and have lived in a number of states, and I can tell you that I have never seen people be so mean to themselves as here in Utah. I call it the "Stain Glass Window Effect". I see the ladies here as frustrated by their own guilt over not being "good enough". I know how it feels because I was once a perfectionist, but it nearly destroyed my health, and yes, I did the anti-depressant thing too. Now I defend my right to be imperfect. In fact, I don't think Jesus ever taught that we were meant to be perfect here. He taught love and acceptance, and that's why people followed him around in droves. He filled their hearts with something that was missing. We need to get back to what he really taught, which was simple, just LOVE. How can we Love God and our Neighbors if we hate ourselves for never being good enough?

  • poindex EAGLE MOUNTAIN, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    My wife said she feels depressed and asked me how to stop feeling guilty. I said "Simple, just do something worse than whatever you feel guilty about."

  • Incite Full Layton, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    My wife gets depressed if I ignore her.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:56 a.m.


    I know. I'm a heretic. But MY wife's depression is because of SAD, not chronic perfectionism, and even the SAD is under control since we moved to Texas.

    I tell you, living with a depressed wife is no picnic. Men, you have a responsibility to try to end this cycle in Mormon Culture, too!!!

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    I have found that the "Molly Mormon" phenomena exists less outside of the Utah culture.

    The desire to put on a perfect front for others is a driving factor. And I believe the source of this is pride.

    We need to teach more that the Lord loves us despite and perhaps because of our shortcomings. We need to teach that doing our best is all that is expected, not becoming perfect in this life.
    Men in the Church need to pull their wives aside and express appreciation for all they do, but ask them to let some of the unessential go. Every child does not need a 200 page baby book. Every flat surface in the house does not need a hand-made doily. Every square inch of wall space does not need a cutesy phrase, framed and decorated in RS. All your bread does not have to be home made.
    And then women need to transmit these truths to their daughters and sons.

  • Rosebyanyothername Home Town USA, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    While there may be some truth to the findings there are no conclusions for answers as this study was done on such a small sample. Accepting oneself is individual as well as the remedy.

    We are all here to learn and overcome whatever trials we are faced with. What one woman has in her life is different than another. I am an LDS woman and know what many of these women experienced with similar struggles.

    I found my happiness came from the inside out, not the other way around. Who we are is Internal and no amount of external is going to fill that "empty cup." Things don't make us happy. Relationships do, communication and knowing oneself begins with ME.

    The spiritual side of who we are needs nurturing like our physical bodies. I found that to cope better each day I rely on nurturing my spirit through prayer and studying the scriptures. We get so busy and forget our spirits need to be fed often and regularly.

    I found out more about who I am through that bond I have with God and Jesus Christ. It is what gave meaning to who I am. It takes work.

  • catcrazed Eagle Mountain, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    Christoph...really??? We need all the education we can get. I do agree that video games, TV, and lack of sleep can be contributing factors, but I take exception with everything else you said. As a former perfectionist, I can say that I am much happier now that I have given myself room to grow without having to be perfect. I also have found that regular exercise has made a huge difference in my well-being. To my depressed sisters...just keep trying! Do what you need to for yourself without guilt!

  • aunt lucy Looneyville, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    MOM of Ten i wish your comment could be read from every podium in every sacrament meeting. Great comment.

  • Mom of ten SANBORNTON, NH
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    Once, when I was leaving church with several small children, a woman behind me, also with small children, sighed and said,"there goes my example of perfect motherhood." I looked around to see who she was talking about. When I saw it was me, I told her very firmly,"don't do that to yourself and don't do that to me. It is not fair to either of us. You see what I want you to see. You do not see my unmade beds. You do not see me at home when I yell at me kids. You do not see me get impatient, or my messy closets. You see what I want you to see and what you see is not the complete truth." We don't have to be perfect. We need to strive to make each day just a bit better than before, while realizing that we will have our really bad days too. It's okay to be you and it is okay to be me and we do no need to be false in who we are. Having that attitude has really helped me deal with all my stresses in life.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 7:37 a.m.

    I'm sure glad I'm not a perfectionist! I wouldn't change my religion, though. It is better to get proper medication than to self-medicate with alcohol.

    What researchers should really do is study the risk of depression due to hypothyroidism in Utah, which was the leading state for goiter before the introduction of iodized salt. They should include the effect of recommendations that we eat less salt, even avoiding the salt shaker entirely, while condoning the sodium in processed foods, which have no supplemental iodine.

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 6:27 a.m.

    The research may not be particularly original but the fact that not much has changed over 30 years and the efforts of BYU professors to "debunk" that original study suggest that the research has value. today.

    For our Rexburg colleague, there is a difference between qualitative research and quantitative research. Small sample sizes and in-depth interviewing in qualitative research yield richer data over a smaller group of respondents while larger samples with less rich data characterize quantitative research. Both have value.

  • SL Rexburg, ID
    Jan. 31, 2013 11:04 p.m.

    I don't doubt there is a relationship between perfectionism and depression. But a study involving 20 people? How can that be taken seriously?

  • LVIS Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 31, 2013 10:31 p.m.

    Not very original. Several studies like this have been done. One of the first was "Depression and Mormon Women" done over 30 years ago. Not much has changed.