JOURNAL ARTICLE

What factors influence attitudes towards people with current depression and current mania?

Larissa Wolkenstein, Thomas D Meyer
International Journal of Social Psychiatry 2009, 55 (2): 124-40
19240202

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have detected different variables influencing the attitude towards mentally ill individuals but they have never addressed mania. Furthermore, it is not known whether the same factors affect attitudes towards individuals experiencing major depressive or manic episodes.

AIMS: Besides factors such as familiarity with mental illness, we were interested whether vulnerability to psychosis and mood disorders as well as social desirability can affect attitudes towards major depressive episodes and manic episodes.

METHODS: Subjects were presented with a case vignette describing an individual experiencing either a major depressive episode or a manic episode (n = 188, age 16-34 years). Their attitudes towards that person were assessed. Furthermore, factors potentially influencing these attitudes have been assessed such as personal vulnerability factors (i.e. cyclothymia and magical ideation) and social desirability bias.

RESULTS: Familiarity with the phenomenon of mental illness turned out to influence the attitude towards affective episodes, whereas the influence of the other potential predictors such as their own experience of affective or schizotypal symptoms failed to appear to be of significance.

CONCLUSIONS: Whereas ;familiarity' turned out to be a factor positively influencing the attitude towards depression, it turned out to have a rather negative influence on the attitude towards mania. This result could have important implications for anti-stigma campaigns.

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