Stigma and mood disorders

Claire M Kelly, Anthony F Jorm
Current Opinion in Psychiatry 2007, 20 (1): 13-6

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To update the reader on current research on stigmatizing attitudes towards people suffering from mood disorders and to describe recent interventions in this area.

RECENT FINDINGS: The public generally feels their own attitudes are more favourable to people with depression than 'most other people's' attitudes are. Among those with depressive symptoms, self-stigma in relation to depression is higher than perceived stigma from others, including professionals, thus hindering help seeking. The main factor that seems to improve the attitudes towards people with any mental illness is personal contact. Moderate improvements in attitudes have been achieved with an online intervention. Caution must be taken when ensuring that improvements in knowledge about mental disorders do not lead to increased social distance.

SUMMARY: There exists little research on stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mood disorders. Most of the literature on the stigma towards people with mental illness relates to people with more severe disorders such as schizophrenia. When research has been done on mood disorders, the focus has been on perceived stigma and self-stigma. No up-to-date research exists on discrimination experienced by people with mood disorders, and very little research exists on interventions designed to decrease stigmatizing attitudes towards them.

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