Americans more likely to suffer depression than Russians

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We tend to think of America as the land of freedom and opportunity, it is the home of the American dream of course, and as such you might expect the population to be quite happy and carefree, particularly when compared to Russians.

However, interesting new research from the University of Michigan has discovered that although Russians are more likely to brood and dwell on the negative, Americans are more likely to be depressed.

“Among Westerners, focusing on one’s negative feelings tends to impair well-being, but among Russians, that is not the case,” study co-author Igor Grossmann, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Michigan, said in a university news release.

“Russians focus more on their negative feelings than Americans do but they spontaneously distance themselves from their emotions to a greater extent than Americans, who tend to immerse themselves in their recalled experiences” said Grossman.

The research was based on two separate studies involving both American and Russian students looking at cultural influences on depressive tendencies. The studies were funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

The first study involved 168 students, 85 of whom were Russian, and 83 who were American. Each participant completed a test designed to measure brooding and depression symptoms. The researchers found that the Russian students were more likely to brood but were less likely to have depression symptoms than the American students.

The second study involved 76 Russian students and 86 American students. This time the students were asked to recall their thoughts and feelings on an unpleasant memory involving an interaction between themselves and someone else. Afterwards the researchers assessed each student for levels of distress.

An analysis of the data showed that the Russians were less distressed after recalling the experience and placed less blame on the other individual involved in their experience. They were also better able to distance themselves from their experience whilst recalling the event and analysing how they felt.

The researchers noted that this distancing of oneself is linked to lower levels of distress and blame.

“These findings add to a growing body of research demonstrating that it’s possible for people to reflect on negative experiences either adaptively or maladaptively” Grossmann said.

Igor Grossmann and co-author assistant professor of psychology Ethan Kross published their findings in the August issue of Psychological Science.

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