A multitude of social, economic, and epistemic factors contribute to existing prognoses and treatments for depression (Horwitz and Wakefield 2007). Still, the processes by which depression takes form in different places remain unclear. While traditional Japanese wisdom recognizes the universality of suffering and the transience of happiness (Schulz 2009), the country's recent struggle with rising rates of depression appears to be at odds with this important aspect of the national culture. Although one factor in the rise of depressive diagnoses may be the decision of Big Pharma to move heavily into the Japanese market (Applbaum 2006), Junko Kitanaka's book Depression in Japan offers an analytic account from a different perspective.

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Kitanaka looks into the reaction of the Japanese psychiatric profession to the significant transformations of society over the past few decades. Linking depression with the social...

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