Depression and the Yellow Wallpaper

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Depression is a psychological condition associated with symptoms including but not limited to changes in behavioral patterns explicitly slowing of emotional and physical responses. (Crary, & Crary, 1973). A majority of persons suffering from depression at some point receive nursing care since the condition has noticeable symptoms. Nurse practitioners play an essential role in ensuring that depression condition is identified, and treated. Interactions between nurses and patients are vital in ensuring that correct information is gathered for the right treatment to be administered (Tucker et al., 2004). Treatment of depression is based on verbal or non-verbal behavioral patterns and information from the victim and people around them. Depression causes different levels of changes ranging from physical, psychological and emotional. In Charlotte P. Stetson's article; “the yellow wallpaper” and the visual by Marcos elsh, there is a correlation between isolation and depression and how the two aspects serve to deteriorate the psychological well-being of a person suffering from depression.

Background Information

The society and loved ones sometimes fail to acknowledge changes in character and identity of a depressed person as a result of psychological breakdown and mistakenly assume it to be normal phenomenon triggered by changes in personality and environment. Millions of Americans suffer from depression annually. However, the condition is only identified and treated in approximately thirty thousand patients. Statistics show that one out of two hundred victims of depression commits suicide depicting depression as one of the fatal psychological disorders which are responsive to treatment (Crary, & Crary, 1973). It, therefore, becomes impossible to arrest the situation making the victims result in isolation as they feel that the society does not understand them. When the depressed individuals are isolated in their homes, they undergo psychological stress and strive to hide their emotions by limiting their interactions with members of the society. Troubled personality acts as a lie and deception on the part of the victim since lying and hiding the condition does not make it go away but instead incubates it making it more severe. The hiding; either through isolation or concealing of the symptoms of depression may take time to manifest depending on a person's cognitive ability.

Analysis of “The Yellow Wallpaper”

            In the yellow wallpaper, Charlotte P. Gilman describes psychological stress as one of the most depressing phenomena (Stetson N.d.). The author sheds light on issues related to mental breakdown and the associated change in identity. The narrator who is suffering from temporary nervous depression is taken by her husband for a retreat in the countryside to recover. To ensure full recovery, the husband forbids the wife from engaging in any intellectual work to avoid the mental stress that would deteriorate her psychological condition. The room that the husband selects is large, well aerated, and bright but barred at the windows. The bed is also bolted to the floor. The wallpaper is torn, and the floor scratched as if it had once been used as a playroom or a nursery. The narrator is often left in the room alone though primary care is provided.

            The authoritative and powerful voice of the husband intimidates the narrator urging her to be passive despite having a contrary conviction about what is best for her condition. Even though she disagrees with the treatment, she has no power to alter things making her change her identity. Screening of persons suffering from emotional depression is a fundamental prevention technique of depression as it ensures timely identification of the condition. (Queen, Nurse, Brackley, & Williams, 2009).

The narrator is forbidden from physical engagements like manual work and even writing, but she feels that exciting work, freedom, and activity would aid in resolving her mental depression (Stetson N.d.). As a result, she decides to write a journal to relieve her mind where she begins by describing the house. The yellow wallpaper in the bedroom disturbs her owing to its formless patterns and strange appearance that emotionally depress her. It is evident that John and his wife have different opinions meaning and perception s about depression. John seems ignorant of the difficulties her wife is undergoing and prohibit her from engaging in any form of intellectual work. He ends up controlling her freedom making her think even more worsening her condition. The yellow wallpaper inflicts emotional damage on the narrator due to its unattractiveness. She says that there are things in the paper that only she understands and not anyone else. She develops a superstitious character that shapes her identity. To her, the wallpaper represents an image of “a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern” (Stetson N.d.).

Analysis of the Visual

According to the image, the isolation aspect of "the yellow wallpaper" is evident where a lonely person is possibly suffering from mental depression is displayed. A bed is available for the person to rest but she instead stands and gazes through the window to the outside world an indication that the conditions are not motivating to her, the person in the image seems to be rooted in thought a sign that she is thinking hard about something that certainly adds to her depression. The bed is not adequately done despite the person in the image having ample time and freedom to make the bed. The room is also well lit and aerated but the condition does not seem enough to the person, and she yearns for a connection with something more fulfilling.

            When persons suffering from depression are isolated, they develop a negative perception about themselves a condition that makes them more vulnerable to change of identity due to stress. The victims result in overthinking which worsen their mental problems. Persons with a past of depression live with the fear of being degraded by the society and therefore result to live a modest life. The stigmatization leads to change of character of the victims leading to vulnerability to social identity threat (Isaksson et al., 2017). The woman in the visual and the narrator of "the yellow wallpaper" seem to be unable to connect with the society. The narrator is unable to discuss her condition with her brother who is also a doctor with fear that he would have the same opinions about her health as John.

Counter Argument

            Depression cases are sometimes not identified by the society and changes of identity is sometimes viewed as a normal aspect of human behavior. There are numerous reasons behind changes in personality because the character is acquired through one's experiences in life. Some of the changes are voluntary and not based on one’s psychological incapacitation. In the visual, it is not sure whether the woman gazing through the window is suffering from depression given that many factors cause people to isolate themselves from the society. One key factor is a need for quiet and personal time to rest and reflect on one’s life. It is therefore not correct to assume that people suffering from depression isolate themselves. When some people are depressed, they resolve to be aggressive and developing a negative attitude towards the people around them.

            There are different levels of depression. Being a process, it takes a considerable amount of time to change their identity (Care, and Nicholas 2013). When the change is gradual, it is difficult to identify whether a person is suffering from depression without medical tests to confirm. Some persons respond differently to stress. Some result in speaking out to friends in efforts to seek assistance while others result in concealing their troubles. It is therefore evident that stressful conditions lead to depression. The intellectual capacity plays a significant role in determining personal response to stress that tends to result in depression. Personal identity changes is a normal aspect of humans as external factors like profession, age, religious beliefs, occupation among other factors lead to changes in the identity of a person. It is, therefore, a complicated task to determine.


            Depression is a major mental health challenge facing psychological health practitioners owing to the increasing number of deaths associated with depression. There exist various treatment approaches for depression the most common one being the isolation of patients where care is provided to prevent patients from engaging in strenuous mental activities. Depression has an association with changes in a person’s identity a phenomenon that sometimes goes unnoticed by the society. However, with perquisite expertise, the signs and symptoms of depression can be identified and treated. However, the various levels of depression and the varied factors that cause a change of identity pose a challenge to the identification of depression cases where only screening is a sure way to identify depression cases (Scruton, 1981). In addition to rest cure, Patients undergoing treatment should be exposed to a conducive environment that allows for freedom and comfort to ensure adequate recovery.


Care, Melissa N., and Nicholas A. Kuiper. "Cognitive representations in a self-regulation model of depression: Effects of self–other distinctions, symptom severity and personal experiences with depression." Self and Identity 12.2 (2013): 128-145.

Crary, W., & Crary, G. (1973). Depression. The American Journal of Nursing, 73(3), 472-475.

Isaksson, A., Martin, P., Kaufmehl, J., Heinrichs, M., Domes, G., & Rüsch, N. (2017). Social identity shapes stress appraisals in people with a history of depression. Psychiatry research, 254, 12-17.

Queen, J., Nurse, A., Brackley, M. H., & Williams, G. B. (2009). Being emotionally abused: a phenomenological study of adult women's experiences of emotionally abusive intimate partner relationships. Issues in mental health nursing, 30(4), 237-245.

Scruton, R. (1981). Mental illness. Journal of medical ethics, 7(1), 37.

Stetson. P., (N.d). The yellow wallpaper. Retrieved from: on June 28, 2018.

Tucker, P., Crow, S., Cuccio, A., Schleifer, R., & Vannatta, J. B. (2004). Helping Medical Students Understand Postpartum Psychosis through the Prism of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Academic Psychiatry, 28(3), 247-250.

August 21, 2023

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