But you already knew that, because you read this blog. For millions of people in the world, however, depression still isn’t viewed as a “real” health problem. These people think it’s just something you have to “get over.” Some even think you can “catch” depression, like you can catch a cold. The number of misconceptions out there is amazing.
Anchor Magazine recently published an article on this topic, basically reminding us that mental illness is still not as widely accepted as we would like, but how much progress we’ve made in just the past 20 years. It starts by describing the story of Keith Anderson, a Canadian lawyer who grappled with depression:
Anderson’s depression affected every aspect of his life, including his family, his relationships, his self-confidence, and his self-worth. But on top of all the symptoms of depression, Anderson also became the victim of stigmatization from former colleagues, friends, and even neighbors.
“It’s amazing the people who stand by you, and it’s amazing the people who don’t,” he says.
At a time in his life when he was looking for support and acceptance, Anderson faced rejection and isolation from many people.
Every time someone he knew walked by him without saying hello or sharing an embrace, it sent him further into depression.
“It was really troubling, and at the time I was pretty shaky, so when someone snubbed me it threw me for a week. It hurts when you think, ‘Gee, they were people who had had their own troubles personally and professionally who I had helped, and the one time I’m in a situation, they’re long gone.’”
Anderson’s experience is not unique. Thousands of people across North America who suffer from depression also become the victims of stigma and discrimination from those around them.
It’s a good article that gives a broad perspective on how far we’ve come, what efforts are ongoing, and how much further we have to go in destigmatizing mental health concerns.
I’m not a big fan of medicalizing mental illness, but in terms of reducing the stigma, it seems to have helped people understand these are “real” concerns and problems people face. But these simple messages bring their own problems, too. For instance, in simplifying the message, it simplifies the expectations about treatment. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but I know it is a good thing that more people think of concerns like depression just like other health concerns today.
Read the full article: Learning to accept mental illness in today’s society
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jul 2008
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2008). Depression is Real. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/07/11/depression-is-real/