New Global Depression Study Assessed From the Evolutionary Perspective: Part I of IV

According to new research, with results published on July 25 in the open-access journal BMC Medicine, there is a correlation between human depression rates and income rates when it comes to both international and intra-national comparisons. The international comparisons are shown below:

The percentages of people who have experienced or will

experience depression sometime in their lives:

High-income:

Japan: 6.6 percent

Germany: 9.9 percent

Italy: 9.9 percent

Israel: 10.2 percent

Spain: 10.6 percent

Belgium: 14.1 percent

New Zealand: 17.8 percent

Netherlands: 17.9 percent

United States: 19.2 percent

France: 21 percent

Low- and middle-income:

China: 6.5 percent

Mexico: 8 percent

India: 9 percent

South Africa: 9.8 percent

Lebanon: 10.9 percent

Colombia: 13.3 percent

Ukraine: 14.6 percent

Brazil: 18.4 percent

From this data it was determined that the high-income countries, with an average major depression rate of 14.6 percent, had a higher a rate of depression than low- and middle-income, with an average major depression rate of 11.1 percent; and that the cause of this disparity was the greater income inequality in wealthy nations. This study must be considered suspect at best, and for any number of reasons:

1) The sample is remarkably small, which renders the data very open to cherry-picking         and greater sampling errors.

2) Assuming the data is representative of reality, not only is the disparity between                  categories on the small side, perhaps even within a statistical margin for error, there          appears to be a considerable lack of scientific controls by which to establish                          correlations. And there is virtually no attempt to establish actual causation, i.e., via            describing any particular mechanism(s) in play.

3) That those in wealthy nations are wealthier on average and have a higher standard of          living on average than those in poor nations, yet suffer more from depression than              there poorer counterparts which seems to contradict their broader conclusions, is              simply described as something that has yet to be explained.

4) The very definition of “depression” must be examined carefully before anything else          can be considered.

All of this presents exceptionally fertile ground for discussion from the evolutionary perspective.

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