Stigma Affects Millions With Serious Condition

September 22, 2013 by  

Stigma Affects Millions With Serious Condition, Besides the personal struggle, people with depression also have to deal with other people’s perceptions of depression – many of which are not true. Amy, a 55-year-old New York City executive, has cycled in and out of depression since her late teens. Some of her episodes have been severe and debilitating, but she hasn’t let her depression – or the threat of social stigma – stand in her way. “I’m not ashamed about having depression, and if a stigma still exists, I think it’s much less pervasive,” she says.

Amy may be one of the lucky ones. Although the social stigma surrounding depression has softened from what it was decades ago, it still exists and affects millions of people with the condition.

“Our culture has a fairly rigid definition of what constitutes appropriate behavior, and there is definitely a social stigma associated with depression,” says Joseph Hullett, MD, senior medical director of clinical strategy for OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions in Golden Valley, Minn. “A social stigma, in general, is like the mark of Cain, a label used to identify groups in a society in terms of behavioral traits.”

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