Gayle Shepardson, Chatham High School and Brian Newmark, Wayland High School

Depression: A Comparison of the United States and the Himalayan Cultures



This curriculum compares depression in the context of the United States and the Himalayan cultures. It is designed to be used in a senior high school psychology class over two instructional periods but can be adapted to a variety of levels and settings. This material utilizes a cross-cultural comparison to highlight the concept that disorders are often framed by the societies in which they appear and are influenced by the history, religion, geography and culture of that area. As a consequence, even though symptoms may appear comparable, causes, treatment, and the general understanding of a disorder such as depression may vary radically.

Lesson Plan: Cross-cultural examination of Depression

I. Group discussion
"What is your understanding of depression?"
"How do you think that rural people of the Himalayas would view depression?"
"How does one's conception of depression influence treatment choices?"

II. Provide information
A. Facts about depression
B. Background information on Shamanism and trance induction

III. Compare the way the United States and the Himalayas differs regarding depression
A. Symptoms
B. Causes
C. Student generation of treatments and treatment issues- then compare with webpage link

IV. Suggested activities regarding altered states of consciousness
A. Head rolling
B. Deep Breathing
C. Guided imagery

V. Suggestions for further reading - see Bibliography


For more information about this website you may contact the authors directly at or

This site was created by Brian Newmark and Gayle Shepardson at the NEH Summer Institute "Cultures and Religions of the Himalayan Region," held at the College of the Holy Cross, Summer 2006