Is Marketing Good or Bad For Depression?
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Today we live in a world where more and more people are concerned with their health and their weight. Just think for a minute or two. Do you think that people who grew up between the 1940s and 1970s were concerned with whether or not a grocery store sold organic fruit and vegetables? Do you think they were concerned with counting calories? No, and there were just about as many people who suffered from depression back then as there are now. What is the difference? I think that it's marketing.
Marketing vs. Science
Advancement in the treatment for depression has helped us understand the causes of depression, and effective therapies have helped more and more people learn how to cope with depression. Researchers and psychologists are now starting to recommend unconventional treatments along with medication and behavioral treatment to help individuals recover from depression even though more studies are needed. Recently, Yoga has become the new trend. Organizations such as the American Yoga Association work hard to find links between Yoga and it's benefit to depression, but I am not much of a Yoga fan, and I am not a fan of alternative medicine. In-fact, I question just how effective unconventional treatments such as Yoga may actually be for treating depression, especially since the research is so limited at this time. You have to remember that many associations and private studios are in the business of promoting their products in order to generate revenues, so they all contain a sales-growth bias. This means that the organization’s marketing team must work hard to gather data and research in order to use it as a way to get people to “buy into” the next big thing rather than for the purposes of pure scientific inquiry. Notice that a SCIENTIFIC meta-analysis of Yoga and Depression concludes that Yoga could be an effective "ancillary" practice for depression, but it does not conclude that Yoga is a singular "cure" for depression (See PubMed). Now,
notice that a Yoga Online article highlights Yoga as a treatment for depression that could potentially replace standard medical care, but they do not address the meta-analysis that I described above (See Pro-Yoga Article). Here, the bias is evident, where a full consideration of the facts is not the objective, but rather the objective is to persuade the reader to adopt Yoga as a treatment for depression. Perhaps Yoga will ultimately prove to be incredibly beneficial for depression as a stand-alone treatment, but my point is that marketing and science are two very distinct fields with very different objectives. Marketing strives to drive sales through a biased interpretation of the research, and science strives to reveal the truth, whether we like the truth or not.
Marketing Sometimes Conflicts With Good Research & Education
Many organizations will hire researchers for the exclusive purpose of creating data that aligns with the organization’s goals and strategic plans, and the data that is collected and reviewed may contain claims that do not yet have sufficient scientific research to support their marketing and sales message. Research is a respectable discipline, but there are always a few bad apples in the bunch that will use their knowledge to make a quick buck through distorting the data. Psychology is not only the study of human behavior and the brain. Psychology is also a discipline that focuses on organizational management and marketing, which is why McDonalds, one of the least healthy food providers on the planet, employs psychologists who earn $100,000 + per year in order to develop effective sales tactics and feed the world a low quality diet. So, how is all of this related to Yoga and depression? The common theme is marketing tactics. Depressed people are emotionally unstable, and the one thing that is certain is that a depressed individual in pain will likely want to find for the quickest cure. As a result, well-marketed but poorly researched methods can become their first stop for treatment.
Do What Works
If Yoga helps you cope with depression than by all means continue to go to Yoga classes. However, when an organization continues to push its idea on people who are not emotionally stable, it can have a negative effect on their treatment for depression by diverting them from something with more scientific validation. The best thing that psychologists and counselors can do for their clients is to listen to their clients, get to know them, and apply scientific inquiry to the origion of their depression. This suggestion is very important for new licensed professionals - It's great if you feel confident about your accomplishments, but don’t let your accomplishments cloud your judgment, and don’t continuously remind your client about everything you know about new coping mechanisms. Your clients come to you for help, and seeking someone who will listen to them is important - Don't be judgmental. Listening to your client is the best way to learn about the causes of their depression or if they experienced a traumatic life event, which could help you to better understand what went wrong and the best way in which to provide treatment.
Before my father passed away, I wrote short stories and poetry, because writing gave me an opportunity to put my vivid imagination onto paper. It was not until recently that I started to write again. However, in order to start writing again, I had to be at peace and accept that my father is no longer with me and have faith that he is in a better place - That was my solution. I also started go to the gym to learn how to relieve stress, finished my MBA, and learned how to prepare tax returns after I got out of a violent relationships. I realized that I had to do things that I wanted to do to be happy, and no one can stop me.
Dr. David Williams’ article, 7 Hobbies that Help with Depression and Anxiety, is a good place to start. Dr. David Williams’ article lists hobbies, such as writing, going to the gym, gardening (2014). Yes, gardening. Hobbies such as gardening are perfect for older people, and people who like to work with their hands. Gardening allows the depressive patient learn how to concentrate and focus without letting outside influences to deter them from their goal as they work to create a finished product. Yoga may be a good coping mechanism for people who suffer from depression, but it is the licensed professional who is responsible for guiding the client to the best solution for their unique disposition.
- Heather Browning, MBA, BA
Williams, D., (14 April 2014). 7 Hobbies that Help with Depression and Anxiety, Retrieved January 29, 2015.