An international team of researchers has found that more than three-quarters of people with depression report feeling discriminated against because of their condition.
The researchers, led by Dr. Graham Thornicroft at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, questioned 1,082 people being treated for depression in 35 different countries about their experiences of discrimination.
More than one-third reported they had been avoided or shunned by other people because of their mental health problems, according to the researchers.
Of those surveyed, 79 percent reported experiencing discrimination in at least one life domain.
Interestingly, researchers found that the anticipation of discrimination was rampant, with 37 percent of participants saying it prevented them from initiating a close personal relationship.
One-quarter of those surveyed said they did not apply for work at some point because they expected that they would be discriminated against.
However, the researchers found that people who anticipated discrimination did not necessarily find that their experiences confirmed this.
Nearly half — 47 percent — of participants who reported having anticipated discrimination in finding or keeping a job, and 45 percent who anticipated discrimination in their personal relationships, did not actually experience discrimination in these situations.
Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of participants said that they actively wished to conceal their depression from other people, leading to concerns that people with depression may be put off from seeking treatment due to fears of discrimination if they disclose their condition, according to the study.
Researchers note that this means these people will not receive the proper treatment, which means the condition is more likely to become chronic.
“Previous work in this area has tended to focus on public attitudes towards stigma based on questions about hypothetical situations, but ours is the first study to investigate the actual experiences of discrimination in a large, global sample of people with depression,” said Thornicroft.
“Our findings show that discrimination related to depression is widespread, and almost certainly acts as a barrier to an active social life and having a fair chance to get and keep a job for people with depression.”