Not very original. Several studies like this have been done. One of the first
was "Depression and Mormon Women" done over 30 years ago. Not much has
I don't doubt there is a relationship between perfectionism and depression.
But a study involving 20 people? How can that be taken seriously?
The research may not be particularly original but the fact that not much has
changed over 30 years and the efforts of BYU professors to "debunk" that
original study suggest that the research has value. today.For our
Rexburg colleague, there is a difference between qualitative research and
quantitative research. Small sample sizes and in-depth interviewing in
qualitative research yield richer data over a smaller group of respondents while
larger samples with less rich data characterize quantitative research. Both
I'm sure glad I'm not a perfectionist! I wouldn't change my
religion, though. It is better to get proper medication than to self-medicate
with alcohol.What researchers should really do is study the risk of
depression due to hypothyroidism in Utah, which was the leading state for goiter
before the introduction of iodized salt. They should include the effect of
recommendations that we eat less salt, even avoiding the salt shaker entirely,
while condoning the sodium in processed foods, which have no supplemental
Once, when I was leaving church with several small children, a woman behind me,
also with small children, sighed and said,"there goes my example of perfect
motherhood." I looked around to see who she was talking about. When I saw it
was me, I told her very firmly,"don't do that to yourself and
don't do that to me. It is not fair to either of us. You see what I want
you to see. You do not see my unmade beds. You do not see me at home when I yell
at me kids. You do not see me get impatient, or my messy closets. You see what I
want you to see and what you see is not the complete truth." We don't
have to be perfect. We need to strive to make each day just a bit better than
before, while realizing that we will have our really bad days too. It's
okay to be you and it is okay to be me and we do no need to be false in who we
are. Having that attitude has really helped me deal with all my stresses in
MOM of Ten i wish your comment could be read from every podium in every
sacrament meeting. Great comment.
Christoph...really??? We need all the education we can get. I do agree that
video games, TV, and lack of sleep can be contributing factors, but I take
exception with everything else you said. As a former perfectionist, I can say
that I am much happier now that I have given myself room to grow without having
to be perfect. I also have found that regular exercise has made a huge
difference in my well-being. To my depressed sisters...just keep trying! Do
what you need to for yourself without guilt!
While there may be some truth to the findings there are no conclusions for
answers as this study was done on such a small sample. Accepting oneself is
individual as well as the remedy. We are all here to learn and
overcome whatever trials we are faced with. What one woman has in her life is
different than another. I am an LDS woman and know what many of these women
experienced with similar struggles. I found my happiness came from
the inside out, not the other way around. Who we are is Internal and no amount
of external is going to fill that "empty cup." Things don't make us
happy. Relationships do, communication and knowing oneself begins with ME. The spiritual side of who we are needs nurturing like our physical
bodies. I found that to cope better each day I rely on nurturing my spirit
through prayer and studying the scriptures. We get so busy and forget our
spirits need to be fed often and regularly. I found out more about
who I am through that bond I have with God and Jesus Christ. It is what gave
meaning to who I am. It takes work.
I have found that the "Molly Mormon" phenomena exists less outside of
the Utah culture.The desire to put on a perfect front for others is
a driving factor. And I believe the source of this is pride.We need
to teach more that the Lord loves us despite and perhaps because of our
shortcomings. We need to teach that doing our best is all that is expected, not
becoming perfect in this life.Men in the Church need to pull their wives
aside and express appreciation for all they do, but ask them to let some of the
unessential go. Every child does not need a 200 page baby book. Every flat
surface in the house does not need a hand-made doily. Every square inch of wall
space does not need a cutesy phrase, framed and decorated in RS. All your bread
does not have to be home made.And then women need to transmit these truths
to their daughters and sons.
Continued......I know. I'm a heretic. But MY wife's
depression is because of SAD, not chronic perfectionism, and even the SAD is
under control since we moved to Texas.I tell you, living with a
depressed wife is no picnic. Men, you have a responsibility to try to end this
cycle in Mormon Culture, too!!!
My wife gets depressed if I ignore her.
My wife said she feels depressed and asked me how to stop feeling guilty. I
said "Simple, just do something worse than whatever you feel guilty
I'm glad to see another study address this sad issue. And yes it's
true, Mormon women are depressed. I am not originally from Utah and have lived
in a number of states, and I can tell you that I have never seen people be so
mean to themselves as here in Utah. I call it the "Stain Glass Window
Effect". I see the ladies here as frustrated by their own guilt over not
being "good enough". I know how it feels because I was once a
perfectionist, but it nearly destroyed my health, and yes, I did the
anti-depressant thing too. Now I defend my right to be imperfect. In fact, I
don't think Jesus ever taught that we were meant to be perfect here. He
taught love and acceptance, and that's why people followed him around in
droves. He filled their hearts with something that was missing. We need to get
back to what he really taught, which was simple, just LOVE. How can we Love God
and our Neighbors if we hate ourselves for never being good enough?
"They think they can't make a mistake and so they become
hyper-competitive and anxious. If you think you can make no mistake, you're
setting yourself up for failure."========== My take
-- Mormons outside of Utah don't suffer this - so then,
"why"....She said it, but missed it -- hyper-competitive.Utah is hyper hyper-competitive.Kids have it beat into their heads from
time they are born.From sports to dance.Football to
Cheerleader.Gynmastics to soccor, music to drama..."My kid's #1, the BEST!" - observe parents from the sidelines.And kids don't want to let their parents down.They learn to
only feel love when they are good, and rejection when bad.They don't
want to let people down.People will talk.It will never be
enough, and they will never be perfect.So the real driver is
parent's hyper-competitiveness -- and, those kids grow up, and
the cycle grows.They have not learned the Gospel of "Repentance,
Forgiveness, and Acceptance".They fall prey to - if you're
not #1, not perfect, then you are a looser, you let everyobody down, and you are
not Celestial.Get over it, people.
On the inside, I am screaming "Yes! Yes! I'm not the only one!".
This article is sooo spot on! I am dealing with this exact scenario. It actually
lifts the fog a little bit helping me to realize I'm not alone!!!
Recognizing our weaknesses brings needed humility when worshiping God.Examples from the Book of Mormon are the brother of Jared who goes before the
Lord and starts his prayer by saying that he knows that God is holy but because
of the fall of Adam that he recognizes that his thoughts are evil continually
nevertheless God has commanded him to pray and ask for what is needed.His
prayer was more than answered when the Lord brought him back into his presence
to teach and edify him.Meekness and lowliness of heart, after a remission
of sins, are also taught in the Book of Mormon as a prerequisite to having a
visitation of the Holy Ghost which comforter fills your heart with hope and
PERFECT love.... Maybe that is the perfection we are looking for?
Lynette's comment, "I put pressure on myself to be that perfect
Mormon" is a perfect example of how many Mormon women (and Utah women we
well as some women everywhere) put even more pressure on themselves for
something that is at least in part the fault of the culture. It's a theme
that runs through my first novel. This is not unique to Utah by any means. It
can be influenced by families and may be a matter of degree. Many women in many
cultures and many religions tend to do the same thing, as do some men.
Haven't I said, religion poisons everything? Apparently, even the minds and
emotions of women in Utah.Who knew?Oh, that's
right, a lot of people have known that Utah leads the country in abuse of
prescription medications and consumption of anti-depressants.The
false claims of "revealed" religions, especially when introduced at an
early age, cause much mental anguish and pain to individuals and negative effect
on society. For instance, Andrea Yates murdered her five little children because
she thought Satan had possessed her and was soon going to possess her children.
She figured if she murdered her children before "the age of
accountability" they would all go to heaven.Deanna Laney
murdered two of her little boys by stoning them to death, then severely
handicapped her third little boy, because she thought God wanted her to do it to
"prove her complete and unconditional faith in Him" like Abraham who was
commanded to execute his son."Belief in a cruel god makes for
cruel men." -- Thomas PayneBelief in the irrational makes for
It's a great time for members of the LDS Church to realize that the gospel,
the Church, and Mormon culture are three separate things. Culture is a byproduct
of living and working in close proximity and has sadly not everything in common
with the gospel of Jesus Christ which is eternal truth and love. It is most
pronounced in areas with high LDS populations (I've lived among many
different kinds of LDS populations). The Church tries to teach the gospel,
changing policies at times to best meet that objective and should not be blamed
for the culture either.
I've been in the Church all my life and suffer from mild depression.
It's nonsense that Church teachings on perfection lead to depression.
It's the misinterpretation of Church teachings that might contribute to
depression. I have never felt the need to be perfect. I'm assuming that
these 20 active LDS women don't know Church doctrine. If they would study
the scriptures it would give them some spiritual therapy and help lessen their
I wouldn't be surprised if simple fatigue had a lot to do with this. More
kids = less sleep = less emotional reserves. "Scientist,"
take your village atheism back to the basement where it belongs. For every
nutcase who fixates on religion, there are multiple nutcases who have nothing to
restrain them. Like, for instance, *virtually every spree killer that ever
lived,* not one of whom, as far as I can tell, was a believing churchgoer.
They're secular liberals to a man. This is not a coincidence.
From Neal A. Maxwell:"Whenever Church members speak of
consecration, it should be done reverently while acknowledging that each of us
"come[s] short of the glory of God," some of us far short (Rom. 3:23).
Even the conscientious have not arrived, but they sense the shortfall and are
genuinely striving. Consolingly, God's grace flows not only to those
"who love [Him] and keep all [His] commandments, "; but likewise to
those "that [seek] so to do" (D&C 46:9)."In our
striving, our perfected selves, it is good to recall that we are "made
perfect" (D&C 128). Moroni tells us:"Yea, come unto
Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if
ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might,
mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye
may be perfect in Christ . . . "Our task is to deny ourselves of
ungodliness and to love God as described. We will then one day be perfected by
Christ.We are to be valiant and strive to do our best. Nothing
As perfection is concerned. The church teaches that the lord knows are
capabalites towards perfection. Every member has a different perfection level,
and it's up to the member to find there own level of perfection. I just try
to take it one step at a time. My two years in Utah there were I met alot of
perfection zealots, and some of these good members appeared to be depressed, and
others overbearing. I would contribute it to being a Utah saint. My ward in
Virginia Beach is very relaxed, and the people appear to be happier overall.
As someone who has spent his life observing the habits of LDS women, here's
one bit of advice I would give to all of you: De-clutter your lives. Many of
you have so much going on that you're not getting enough sleep or enough
"down time". You can't go to EVERY relief society activity, EVERY
ward temple night, EVERY canning assignment, etc. Church by itself can become a
full-time job if you allow it to. Likewise, your kids don't have to be in
EVERY activity known to man.In my house, our kids are allowed to do
one extracurricular activity at a time (i.e. one sport or one musical
instrument) plus scouts. And my wife only goes to the optional activities when
she feels like it. We both get 8 hours of sleep a night.Bottom
line: You don't have to do everything (or serve everybody) right now. Slow
When I gave birth I was handed a t shirt that said "hypocrite"
(figuratively speaking), I wear it often- raising my voice to tell my kids to
stop yelling, admonish them to get enough sleep and then staying up until 2am
reading Harry Potter, sneaking the milk chocolate chips I bought for Family Home
Evening treats, the list goes on.I used to bake bread before I had
to work outside the home. I'm still trying to loose the baby fat from
giving birth to my youngest - who is now 12. (After 12 years can it still be
considered baby fat?:) )So what? I am sorry there are
LDS who feel that falling short of perfection means they are unworthy of
happiness. The LDS religion does not teach this, no matter how many people with
an ax to grind believe it is so.
A ScientistAndrea Yates was diagnosed with mental illness early in
her marriage. It was her illness that drove her crime, not some conscious
devotion to her religion.To what religion was the genocidist Pol Pot
devoted to? How about the genocidist Joseph Stalin? And Mr Hitler? The answer is
that none but Hitler even recognized that there was a God, and Hitler's
motivation was entirely racial and nationalistic. He wanted to be the god of the
people much like KIm Jong-on is today in N Korea.So, if the greatest
mass murderers of all time had no religion in their lives, why would we ever
want to believe like they did?Another point of interest: What were
the religious inspirations of the Sandy Hook killer and the Aurora, Colorado
movie theatre killer? Again, answer: None.
I am reading a book written by a LDS woman doctor and it is address to everyone
but mostly to LDS women about depression. It has been very interesting learning
about depression and how it literally effects the brain and how some are more at
risk in getting depression. I think that women of all areas are more prone to
becoming depressed mostly because they are as a whole much more emotional about
things then are men and have a greater tendency of holding things in. In
my ward in Relief Society we have talked about this often and I know that in
"Time out for Women" they have talked about it as have the General
Authorities. We all need to realize that God does not demand perfection
of us. We have ages of life after this life to reach perfection. He does expect
us to do the best that we can and realizes that we will fall. That is the
purpose of the Atonement. So many of us believe in Christ, but how many of us
TRULY believe Christ? Not only our sins but the pains of life can be swallowed
up in HIS eternal love.
"a Scientist" is probably a man and does not have a clue what women go
thru. The two women he mentions were not members of any church that I know of.
I am also sure from my own family experience that they suffered from depression
brought about by hormonal changes, such as bearing children and the resulting
changes brought about by that. I have seen first hand what can happen with such
hormonal changes. I have someone in my family that has had this happen several
times. It was very scary to see her like that. She heard voices telling her to
do things to her children. We were lucky in our family that the problem was
discovered before too much damage or death happened. She was locked up and
treated with medication until her hormones leveled out. We keep an eye on her
but with age this has changed. As far as I'm concerned Andrea Yates had no
idea what she was doing should have had medical treatment and been confined to a
mental health facility.
The believers sound like they are trying to convince themselves...Those poor arguments sure aren't convincing anyone else.
I grew up in Utah and was very depressed my whole life. I had to get out and
get into a 12 step program where I learned to take care of myself, not compare
myself to others, learn to listen to my intuition, and seek to please my
Heavenly Father first. He loves me unconditionally and that is all that
matters. I can cut my family a break too. I used to expect perfection of
everyone and was always sadly disappointed. I know the Church is true, and seek
to love myself and others instead of judging them.
In 1982 I along with others published a study looking at the risk factors and
prevalence of depresseion in Mormon women. The subject was a topic in the local
news at the time but there had been no research done. We made every effort we
could think of to eliminate bias from the study by randomly selecting
participants and by insuring that neither the women conducting the interviews or
the study participants knew what the study was about except that we were looking
about health issues in women. 193 women participated. We found that there was no
difference between Mormon and Non-Mormon women in terms of prevalence of
depression and that the factors that related to depression were very similar in
the two groups. There has been no study to date that I am aware of that shows a
causal relationship between being a Mormon and having depression or any other
mental health problem. Perfectionism is likely a problem among many people who
struggle with mental health problems. To truely understand that it is a unique
problem for Mormon women one would have to conduct a prospective comparative
study. This has not been done to date.
CarolynHoward-JohnsonYou are correct in your comments. Our society is
overwhelmed by messages about how great women are and how bad men are. This
even happens from the pulpits of the LDS Church and perhaps many other churches
as well."Study researchers have found that broad generalizations
about the likely success of a social group -- of boys or girls, for example --
actually undermined both boys' and girls' performance on a challenging
activity." The study further states, "These findings suggest we should
be cautious in making pronouncements about the abilities of social groups such
as boys and girls. Not only is the truth of such statements questionable, but
they also send the wrong message about what it takes to succeed, thereby
undermining achievement -- even when they are actually meant as
encouragement."The expectations of women are far to high because
of all these types of messages coming from so many parts of our society. The
guilt comes as individuals see themselves falling short of these perceived group
qualities.Kill the messages... don't kill the messengers...
just re-train the messengers to deliver the "real" true message.
I'm not a perfectionist - I'm conscientious. And isn't that a
good thing? The kids have regular meals, and the bill get paid, and I've
only gotten a few speeding tickets. Those are good things. But when I
can't do them for health reasons, it's frustrating and upsetting. It
took me a long time to learn to recruit help, to learn how to say: I'm in
too much physical pain to grocery shop - and I need help. Sometimes the
accommodations lasted years.I'm convinced that part of the
issue is that the job of modern motherhood is just too big for one person. I
know a pregnant mom, temporarily living with her in-laws who said it has saved
her sanity to have help. I agree. When I had the help of a nanny for year, I
felt so much better. What if it is simply an issue of too much to do? Like a
waitress with 30 tables to serve? Too much for the individual mother to deal
Part 2We also have fewer and fewer places to meet and socialize.
Women used to meet at the bridge club or quilting bee or the market. Most people
lived closer to extended family. But go to the grocery store and most of the
people you see are total strangers and there is no chance to talk. The popular
culture has so denigrated motherhood as something that is a default for the
stupid and lazy, that mothers often feel as though we occupy the lowest rungs of
social strata. We have the social standing of a kitchen maid in Downton Abbey -
so of course that is painful and discouraging.
Part 3Motherhood is such a heroic and emotionally and physically
demanding job that is unappreciated and unacknowledged on a day to day basis.
Getting a card, once year, isn't going to cut it. We need flowers, and
date nights, and massages, and someone to cook for us occasionally - and special
status as someone who never has to carry in the groceries - (that's what
older children can be useful for.) How do we know that this depression -
isn't just caregiver burnout? And there are solutions to caregiver burnout
including extraordinary self-care.We live in unusual times, and the
design of motherhood is different in many ways than it use to be throughout
history. Instead of bringing depression out of the shadows - let's bring
mothers out of the shadows and develop forums and opportunities for them to
interact and get some recognition for their struggles, sacrifices and
accomplishments. Then, as a byproduct, I think we'd see less depressive
Utah - #1 per capita LDS in the United States.Utah - #1 in anti-depressant
medication use.Utah - #1 in medication over-dose.Utah - #1 in
on-line porn.Utah - #4 in suicide.We all like to hear the good
news, but ignorning the bad and simply pretending it doesn't exist
doesn't make it go away or get any better.In fact, ignoring it will
just make Utah - dare I say it - get even MORE depressed.
I disagree it's merely the culture and misunderstanding that cause this.Spencer Kimball's "The Miracle of Forgiveness" is exhibit
A. Mormonism essentially denies the power of the atonement in cleansing sin.
You essentially have to pay for you sins in addition to Christ.At
the core is "Are you good enough to get the the Celestial Kingdom?"
Accepting Christ isn't enough - you also have to be valiant enough. How
valiant? No one ones but if you aren't quite good enough there goes
eternity. If even if you are good enough what about your loved ones? Certainly
you will fail to be a good enough Mom & spouse to save all of your children
& husband & grandchildren. If you can just done a little more, been a
little more faithful with scriptures, maybe your children wouldn't have
gone astray.D&C 82:7 ...but unto that soul who sinneth shall the
former sins return, saith the Lord your God.This creates a cycle of
hopelessness. If you aren't perfect repentance is meaningless. Not only
did you fail by sinning today - all your previous sins are back with a
Recently I attended a symposium on Suicide prevention. They showed a map of
suicides and their prevalence across the Nation, and it was very obvious that
the higher the altitudes, the higher the rate of suicide. "How sad"
they said, "to think that someone who committed suicide would likely not
have done so had they just been born at sea level." (Oxygen deprivation
seems to have an effect.)I know 5 Utah women who suffer from serious
depression--two who were not raised LDS but were raised in abusive homes. They
believed everyone else was having a perfect life and if they just got out of
their abusive home and into a temple marriage everything would be perfect for
them also. One is not a Mormon and claims "the tougher things get, the
more I hit the wine bottle." One is from a first generation Mormon family
from the South whose father was domineering and physically abusive. (This
article did list a history of abuse as a commonality). Only one of the five is
from a two or more generation LDS "Utah" family with no history of
abuse. It seems there are many more facets that need to be studied.
The one flaw to this study. She said the women volunteered unstead of being
randomly selectedas they should have been from a larger pool.
THank you DCS. I've always believed what you proved -- that there is NO
difference between LDS woman and non-LDS woman in terms of depression. The one
difference that is clear is that LDS woman don't rely on alcohol or illegal
drugs to numb them or to escape the hardships of life. Another difference that
I've noticed (as a convert) is that LDS women are much more self-aware and
self-actualized than non LDS women. These two factors alone explain higher
rates of depression.
I'm a 24-year-old,single guy. I really try not to judge people, but I
really have noticed a problem with the women around me in Ogden. If I look
around my neighborhood at all of the married couples, I really see a problem.
Good, hard-working, normal men with depressed or really strange women.
Obviously, there are a lot of great women who are strong and normal,so I'm
not trying to be extreme. But, what worries me about it is their husbands are
very calm, quiet, great guys. So, why are their wives emotionally falling
apart? And, let's not forget the single women. Almost every post on
Facebook is about how hard life is or about them having weaknesses, or them
bearing their testimonies. Let me tell you, that is not attractive. Facebook is
not the place for you to be posting all this. 99% of Mormon guys just want a
girl that is stable and can keep a peaceful home. We don't expect them to
be perfect, but just to be calm and collected.