A Guide to Overcoming the Stigma of Depression:

Breaking The Barriers

There is usually a taboo surrounding depression, as well as some misconceptions. And, many times, it becomes difficult for others to relate with the experiences of the person suffering from this mental condition due to stigmatization of this illness. The people may also be reluctant to seek help that will enable them to recover. Depression can often be misunderstood because of popular myths and dismissed as an ‘off day’ or seen as laziness.

Furthermore, there are those who believe that depressed individuals can cure themselves if they try hard enough. Therefore, these patients have not only to face depression but also societal disapproval of their mental health problems. Unraveling such misconceptions is indeed important for comprehending the malaise’s functions and manifestations in terms of physiology and mind as well as its roots. Consequently, society should develop compassion and support for those fighting depression.

Let us begin by talking about physiological causes which may lead to depression first.

Physiological Causes Of Depression

Many people do not know what causes depression physiologically. Thus it may help knowing that depression does not just live in the sufferer’s “head” so here are they,

  • Depression could involve disruptions in brain neurotransmitters like Serotonin, Dopamine etc., impacting mood regulation.
  • Depression can be genetically linked through a family line with some individuals being more vulnerable than others.
  • Depressive episodes can be caused by hormonal changes resulting from puberty, pregnancy or other bodily changes of such kind.
  • Depression may result from prolonged stress due to life circumstances or traumatic experiences affecting the way the brain copes with situations.
  • Sometimes lack of certain nutrients might impact on brain functioning leading to depressive tendencies.

Most people don’t know these psychological causes, which is why there is so much misunderstanding and stigma around it.

How does the media perpetuate this stigma?

Media has a great influence on shaping attitudes and perceptions within society at large. Failure by the media to effectively represent depression and other serious mental health problems leads to development of stereotypes and misconceptions about depression.

Depressed people are often depicted in TV shows and movies as volatile individuals. By portraying people with mental health conditions as dangerous, the media is falsely linking danger with mental illnesses. Consequently, common folks start looking at depressed people as threats to society based on media created misconceptions.

In addition, the media tends to sensationalize more extreme forms of depression rather than showing a balanced view of what someone with depression may experience emotionally. This narrow projection creates stereotypes suggesting that all depressed individuals will act out in extreme ways. This further alienates those fighting.

Also, there is an overuse of derogatory terms such as ‘mad’, ‘crazy’, etc. In relation to persons suffering from mental health disorders like depression, this reinforces negative images. As a result, there is not enough positive representation of issues like depression among media outlets.

Thus patients suffering from depression are quite reluctant when it comes to sharing their experiences due to prevalent beliefs and stereotypes about them.When the media showcases people with depression in a negative light, they are hindering the healing of those who suffer from depression.

Initiatives To Combat Depression Stigma:
What Can Be Done?

Combating depression and stigma does require a lot of effort. The aim should be promoting societal perceptions and understanding. There are several initiatives that can be taken to combat the stigma surrounding depression.

Educate People

The very first step to combating stigma around depression is educating them about mental health. Mental Health education programs in schools, workplaces, and communities will increase awareness among people and promote empathy for those who suffer from depression. Such programs should focus on debunking myths about depression to give accurate information about the causes of depression, its symptoms, how to help people suffering from it, etc. An open dialogue about mental health can make a huge difference.

The Role Of Media

Media does play a very significant role in shaping public opinion. So, media channels should focus on providing accurate portrayals of different mental health issues like depression. Media is also the easiest way to avoid any stereotyping of depression amongst the larger masses. Media must highlight the real stories of individuals and how they overcame depression to inspire other sufferers to speak up and seek help for depression.

Open conversations

Families and communities need to have open conversations about depression. It will allow individuals to start speaking up about their struggles and experiences. This will help break down the tall walls of stigma separating them from others and foster a supportive, empathetic environment. There are several support groups and forums where individuals suffering from depression and other such mental health issues can speak in a non-judgemental space.

Workplace initiatives

Many adults often suffer from depression, so workplace initiatives are very crucial. Employers can implement mental health policies to promote the mental well-being of the employees. They can provide various resources, such as counseling services, flexible working hours, etc, to support the employees. A supportive work environment will break the stigma and all the hush-hush when it comes to depression. The employees can also seek help without risking their careers.

Combating depression stigma does require multiple approaches through education, proper media representation, open conversation, etc. A society that understands and helps individuals dealing with mental health issues like depression is what most people dream of.

FAQs About Breaking The Depression Stigma

Media has the capability of influencing the opinion of the masses. So, if the media starts spreading factual awareness about mental health issues like depression, then that will certainly make a difference in weakening the stigma around depression.

To remove the misconceptions regarding depression, actions need to be taken at every place. Through mental health awareness at the workplace, community, and educational institutions, society can build a safe space for individuals suffering from anxiety.

The ultimate purpose of creating awareness about depression is to inspire individuals with this mental health issue to seek medical help. Mental health providers can help individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with depression.

Wrapping Up!

Building a world that supports and helps people suffering from depression is really important. A supportive environment can help people speak up about their struggles with depression.

Looking for a compassionate psychotherapist? Contact psychotherapist Gita Sawhney at her practice GS Mental Health and Wellness in Manhattan, New York.

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