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Book and Media Reviews
November 5, 2008

Depression and Globalization: The Politics of Mental Health in the Twenty-First Century

JAMA. 2008;300(17):2065-2066. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.543

Depression is an internal and inward-looking state. Although clinicians and researchers have long recognized the influence of external factors on mood disorders, they typically consider immediate externalities: a patient's shrunken social supports, troubled relationships, or job loss.1 Walker, a British health psychologist, expands his readers' outlook by considering how macropolitical trends affect depression. He describes the malign political, economic, and social consequences of the political climate shift in the United States and United Kingdom since around 1979 and links this to worsening depression. Walker criticizes mental health professionals for having “focused too much on the individualistic and dispositional factors that we feel we can control and [having] neglected the social and political context within which we all operate” (p viii). By ignoring the patient's broader context, Walker implies, the clinician misses the deforestation for the tree.