Depression is increasing worldwide and is the fourth leading cause of global burden of disease. It is one of the most common disorders affecting women worldwide, highlighting the fact that gender is a critical determinant of mental health and illness. This qualitative research employs a gender lens to discover the causes of depression in women in Thailand. In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 women who currently experience depression. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, then evaluated using gender analysis. The findings revealed two themes relating to gender inequality, namely that women encountered chronic stress as a result of having to perform traditional gender roles and the stress of living in a context defined by an unequal power relationship between genders. The theme of traditional gender roles consisted of two sub-themes: women having to be patient for their children and families and discrimination because of widowhood. The theme of unequal power relationships consisted of three sub-themes: men not being responsible for the duties as the head of the family, men paying for their personal expenses first (before the family), and women having to bear the family’s financial burden. These findings suggest that raising awareness about gender inequality is important for the prevention of depression in Thailand. Furthermore, it is recommended that therapists understand the causes of depression beyond the individual level and integrate a gender perspective in their psychosocial treatment regime for women.

Note on the Author

Somporn Rungreangkulkij is Associate Professor, Dr. Somporn Rungreangkulkij is a director of the WHO CC Center for Research and Training on Gender and Women’s Health at Faculty of Nursing, KhonKaen University. Her research areas focus on using gender, intersectionality and social justice to understand women’s and men’s mental health, focusing on depression, suicide, and alcohol consupmtion. She has developed gender sensitive interventions including social justice education and feminist-based empowerment counseling.