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How does the stigma of mental illness affect the treatment of depression?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

If you have depression, self-stigma can be harmful because it may cause you to stop treatment, avoid loved ones and other supportive people, or refuse to do things that you normally like. Self-stigma is a negative attitude of believing you are weak or damaged because of an illness. To avoid self-stigma, try the following:

  • Recognize and celebrate your strengths.
  • Educate yourself about your illness, and keep in mind that depression isn’t a weakness, but a biological problem in your brain.
  • Learn what makes you happy and do it.
  • Stick to your treatment plan.

Despite the known effectiveness of treatment for depression, the majority of people in need do not receive it. Where data is available, this is globally fewer than 50%, but fewer than 30% for most regions and even less than 10% in some countries. Barriers to effective care include the lack of resources, lack of trained providers and the social stigma associated with mental disorders.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.