The Stigma of Depression: History and Context

‘I’d love to lie about it – invent an acceptable cancer that recurs and vanishes, that people could understand – that wouldn’t make them frightened and uncomfortable’.

For many people with depression, feelings of personal stigma are so pervasive that they are an inherent part of the experience and to tell another person that you are suffering from depression carries the fear of evoking feelings in others that range from confusion to distrust and disgust. For many, depression is quite simply not an illness and many fail to understand why others cannot just ‘pull themselves together’ or ‘snap out of it’. For my own part, this makes about as much sense as telling a diabetic to snap out of a diabetic coma or telling en epileptic to snap out of his fit. Hardly appropriate behaviour but many people close to depressives tell them exactly this. Because of centuries of failing to understand the illness and a social and political perspective that has ran counter to the development of empathy for people with mood disorders, feelings of embarrassment, shame and self-disgust are rife within sufferers.


Mental Health Mental Illness Mental Health Problem Mental Distress Mental Health Practitioner 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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