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April 20th, 2009
Special Feature
The Differences Between Eastern and Western Attitudes Toward Mental Health

Nolan Zane: In many East Asian cultures the notion of distress – like feeling bad or feeling depressed –is not, it’s not discounted, but it’s not seen as a major reason for complaining. There is a Buddhist saying: “life is suffering” that sort of encapsulates that perspective – psychological distress, in some cultures, is seen as a legitimate reason to complain and seek help. Whereas in other cultures, it’s sort of accepted as a part of life.  So if a person sort of has that orientation in their family, then one – they may not express much to their family members about the depression or anxiety they may be feeling and two, they may be very reluctant to talk about these even darker thoughts of killing themselves or doing away with themselves because again, they may not feel safe, or feel it would be responded to in a very favorable or accepting manner….

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