The Stigma Around Depression and Seeking Help
A barrier to depression recovery is society’s predisposition and attitudes toward mood disorders. The stigma around depression is the reason why so many suffer in silence and do not seek out help.
Understanding the Stigma Associated with Depression
Social stigmas are labels we use to identify groups based on their behavioral traits, especially if those traits differ from cultural norms. Much like the mark of Cain, depression appears to have its stigma.
People with depression find themselves experiencing stigma in some cases at high levels. The stigma associated with depression is complicated but is related to specific factors including:
- The condition itself
- Age and gender of the person
- Beliefs held about depression
People with depression often report the stigma associated with depression is far worse than the condition. Stigma appears to come from a variety of sources, including family and friends, society, government and even one’s personal beliefs about depression.
Evidence the Stigma Exists
Numerous research studies find many people have stereotypes towards people who suffer from depression. These views exist because from childhood; many are us told feeling this way is “not okay,” or “crazy,” or “abnormal.”
One research study reported in Depression Research and Treatment found up to 58% of the study participants with mood disorders had significant stigma experiences.
Mood disorders fall under a group of diagnoses where a person’s mood is believed to be the main characteristic. Depression is one of the most common and researched mood disorders.
Another study reported in the Journal of Community Psychology aimed to determine whether race played a part in the stigma based on both public and personal attitudes about depression and treatment.
What they found was that race played little part in attitudes about depression, both public and personal views about depression, and depression treatment played a much bigger role.
Why Does the Stigma Exist?
Despite its prevalence in modern society depression is still a taboo topic.
Which is shocking, considering that in 2015, 16.1 million American adults were diagnosed with major depressive disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Major depressive disorder, also called clinical depression, is characterized by depressed mood and/or loss of interest, causing a significant impact on daily life.
The stigma around depression exists for many reasons, but most notably because of ignorance and misinformation and inflexible attitudes, stereotypes, and prejudices.
Ignorance and Misinformation
People tend to be ignorant about what they don’t know, especially if they have never been depressed. While they are lucky, it is not an excuse to judge others who suffer from depression.
Others who stigmatize depression haven’t taken the time to educate themselves about it.
Taking the time to understand what causes depression, how it manifests and how is treated will allow someone who has never experienced depression to recognize the warning signs, help a loved one who is suffering, and to offer empathy towards those living with depression.