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“Antidepressant drugs are prescribed in Utah more often than in any other state, at a rate nearly twice the national average.
“Utah's high usage was cited by one of the study's authors as the most surprising finding to emerge from the data. The study was released last summer and updated in January.
“Other states with high antidepressant use were Maine and Oregon. Utah's rate of antidepressant use was twice the rate of California and nearly three times the rates in New York and New Jersey, the study showed.
“Few here question the veracity of the study, which was a tabulation of prescription orders, said Dr. Curtis Canning, president of the Utah Psychiatric Assn. But trying to understand the "why" has puzzled many, he said.
" ‘The one true answer is we don't know,' said Canning, who has a private practice in Logan. ‘I have some hunches.'
" ‘In Mormondom, there is a social expectation--particularly among the females--to put on a mask, say ‘Yes' to everything that comes at her and hide the misery and pain. I call it the “Mother of Zion” syndrome. You are supposed to be perfect because Mrs. Smith across the street can do it and she has three more kids than you and her hair is always in place. I think the cultural issue is very real. There is the expectation that you should be happy, and if you're not happy, you're failing.'
“The study did not break down drug use by sex. But according to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, about twice as many women as men suffer from depressive disorders.
“Discussion of the issue inevitably falls along Utah's traditional fault lines. Some suggest that Utah's unique Mormon culture--70% of the state's population belongs to the church--requires perfection and the public presentation of a happy face, whatever may be happening privately. The argument goes that women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are beset by particular pressures and are not encouraged to acknowledge their struggles….
“Cindy Mann, who lives in Logan, said after 15 years of taking antidepressants and not feeling better, she finally quit in July. Today she encourages others to do likewise, but she's pessimistic.
“ ‘It's like Happy Valley here,' she said, describing the Salt Lake Valley. ‘It's a scary place sometimes. People don't talk about their problems. Everything is always rosy. That's how we got ourselves into this mess--we're good at ignoring things.'”
- Los Angeles Times
, Feb. 20, 2002, “Study Finds Utah Leads Nation in Antidepressant Use,” by Julie Cart