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2014

Depression… Combatting the Stigma Together – Kaylena Satiacum

Depression… Combatting the Stigma Together – Kaylena Satiacum

While there are still individuals who believe depression is something people can just snap out of it, depression is a mental illness that needs treatment (Grohol, 2006). The stigma, over the years, has lessened and that is progressive because of the ample information provided by professionals. With the stigma fading, individuals are more willing to seek help because the fear of judgment is not as severe (Browner, 2012).

Depression is not the common case of feeling down or sad. Being depressed lasts weeks, months, or even years on end when left untreated (Grohol, 2006). Depression is all consuming and does not fade away after visiting with loved ones, seeing a comedy show, taking a walk, or participating in one’s favorite hobby. Depression makes day to day life seem unbearable.

There are many emotional and physical symptoms that depression is accompanied with including loss of energy, constant negative feelings, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, isolation, the inability to enjoy enjoyable things, unjustified feelings of guilt or worthlessness, feelings of hopelessness, insomnia, difficulties with day to day tasks, change in appetite, physical pain, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide (Grohol, 2006). Whether the exposure is directly or indirectly, many people will experience depression in their life because of common this mental illness is (Grohol, 2006).

Decades ago the stigma related to depression was unforgiving. Today that stigma still exists but, it is moderate. The stigma, even minimally, is still present and the goal is for all individuals suffering with depression can seek the help they need without the fear of being ridiculed (Bowers, 2012). Common stereotypes of individuals with depression include lack of willpower, out of control emotions, danger to others, defective, whiney, has an excuse for everything, and antisocialism). The stigma can lead to individuals trying to combat their mental illness on their own instead of seeking professional help (Bowers, 2012. This combat can lead to worsening symptoms, self-medication, self-harm, or suicide.

While professionals can provide optimal education to the public and their clients there will continuously be individuals who refuse the information. When the information is refused then the stigma of depression still subsists. Whether or not every individual accepts depression as a serious illness is up to each individual. The person who is suffering from depression can fight depression stigmas within their own environment to make their personal social encounters and tasks less of a struggle (Bowers, 2012). The stigma can be fought by revealing their condition in an appropriate manner, face the stereotypes, do not self-blame, take ownership of the condition, help others understand the condition, illustrate with poise, do not isolate, and combat the depression stigma with a social support system. The social support system should be built of people who are trustworthy, individuals whom have a clean understanding of depression, and those who are experiencing similar experiences (Bowers, 2012).

While the stigma of depression continues to taper over the years there will always be individuals who do not accept the condition as a mental illness. Professionals provide education, motivation, guides, and advocacy to combat the depression’s stigma and the individuals suffering from depression can combat the stigma by taking ownership of their condition, explaining their condition in an appropriate manner, and constructing a support system of trustworthy people with similar experiences as them (Bowers, 2012).

References
Bowers, E. (2012). Countering the Social Stigma of Depression. Retrieved on August 18, 2014, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/major-depression/facing-social-stigma-of-depression.aspx
Depression Alliance. (2014) Retrieved from http://www.depressionalliance.org/
Grohol, J. (2006). An Introduction to Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/an-introduction-to-depression/000650

Owner and Clinical Supervisor at Pacific Mental Health.

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