The keynote address was given by psychologist and UVU assistant professor Dr. Kristine Doty, “Cultural Considerations for Social Work with Mormon Women Diagnosed with Depression.” Doty presented her local research with 20 LDS women who were diagnosed with depression.
Doty noticed a trend in contributing factors; most of the women were falling victim to “toxic perfectionism.”
“It’s taking your religious beliefs to an extreme, out of fear. You’re worried about what will happen if you don’t live your religious beliefs,” Doty said.
Doty said a major factor in depression is evidenced by Utah being No. 1 in plastic surgery in the nation. The idea of being perfect gets mixed up, whether it is feeling as complete as you can be to being the best at everything you do, according to the the symposium lecture.
Additionally, Utah Valley has one of the lowest substance abuse problems nationwide. However Utah is at the top for Prozac and other prescription antidepressant use, which can be just as dangerous.
During her presentation, Doty unfolded her idea to use medication to get the patient to a functioning level, then weaning them off so they can accomplish things like spiritual strategies, such as scripture study, without being set up to fail.
“Therapy helps situational factors, and medication helps the biological ones,” Doty said.
She believes doctors should send patients to therapy and use medication only when they have to in order to prevent dependency.
Most of the presentations were community-interest based. The final session was “Depression at UVU: A Quantitative Study” given by Dr. Cameron Johns and Dr. Jack Jenkins.
They began with surprising statistics about the entire state: Utah is No. 1 in depression, No. 9 in suicide and No. 1 in life satisfaction.
John and Jenkins explained that the reason why Utah is both No. 1 in life satisfaction and depression is because of toxic perfectionism. Both said that in Utah, you have the risk factor of comparison with depression: If you are unhappy and everyone around you is happy, you are at risk for comparing yourself to them.
With regard to depression at UVU in particular, a student survey conducted about a year and a half ago found that men and women were equally likely to get depressed. However, at UVU women are 2.5 times more likely to get diagnosed than men.
“I think women are just more willing to get help than men.” Dr. Cameron said. “Men are stubborn, we don’t go to the doctor for anything.”