Speaking of women's 'nameless misery': The everyday construction of depression in Australian women's magazines

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Title Speaking of women's 'nameless misery': The everyday construction of depression in Australian women's magazines
Author Gattuso, Suzy; Fullagar, Simone Patricia; Young, Ilena
Journal Name Social Science and Medicine
Editor E. Annandale
Year Published 2005
Place of publication UK
Publisher Elsevier, Pergamon
Abstract In this article we examine the tensions between current Australian depression policy directions and lay beliefs about depression as constructed and circulated through popular media, at a time when mental health education discourses promoting 'depression literacy' (Parslow & Jorm, 2002) are widening the boundaries of what is understood to be depression. Drawing upon research into articles on depression published in two women's magazines before and after the promulgation of the National Action Plan for Depression, we identify the cultural context of certain lay beliefs about depression as articulated through personal and celebrity stories, advice columns and resource links. The depression literacy literature privileges biomedical and psychological expertise in explaining depression and promoting help-seeking behaviour. In contrast, the magazine discourses foreground an individualising discourse of depression as a problem of self-management. They emphasise women's abilities to manage difficult life events and to build informal supportive relationships, which reinforces dominant notions of feminine identity as concerned with balancing competing demands and roles. We critique the national policy on depression literacy as taking insufficient account of women's belief structures, which leads, for example, to a limited analysis of stigma. We also critique policy for not engaging sufficiently with the gendered nature of depression and its relation to social inequities, something the magazines replicate.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Publisher URI http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.03.020
Copyright Statement Copyright 2005 Elsevier. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 61
Page from 1640
Page to 1648
ISSN 0277-9536
Date Accessioned 2005-12-14
Date Available 2009-11-18T05:34:57Z
Language en_AU
Research Centre Griffith Centre for Cultural Research
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject PRE2009-Mental Health; PRE2009-Recreation and Leisure Studies; PRE2009-Sociology
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/4636
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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