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The Social Stigma of Depression

Dr.Jiji.T.S. Social Worker, SCTIMST.

Emotional pain in our society is seen as a personal weakness, not a symptom of a physical disorder, chemical imbalance or nutrient deficiency. Pent up emotions can be extremely difficult to talk about to anyone - even someone you are close to. Even in a close family, having to tell someone how you feel is a risk and leaves you open, vulnerable to rejection and humiliation. Depression is a disorder of perception. Healthy brain chemistry creates a healthy reality. The biochemistry of depression makes you feel & believe
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that this depression is your fault that you will never get better and that you must die.

What is Depression Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual's ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, a tragic fatality associated with the loss of about 850 000 lives every year. Depression is the leading cause of disability as measured by YLDs and the 4th leading contributor to the global burden of disease (DALYs) in 2000. By the year 2020, depression is projected to reach 2nd place of the ranking of DALYs calculated for all ages, both sexes. Today, depression is already the 2nd cause of DALYs in the age category 15-44 years for both sexes combined. The world health organisation (WHO) states that of the world's population, between 10 and 20 per cent of all people will experience indefinite depression in their life time. However the statistics also include that less than 25 percent of these people receive treatment.
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This may be a result of a lack in medical resources available to them or the inability to buy medication. However it is believed that a large part of the problem is the social stigma attached to depression. The WHO believes that in an attempt to increase the availability of treatment to depression sufferers, the social stigma must be detached. This can be done in a number of ways. It is important to increase the social awareness as well as an understanding of the mental illness. Once society has an adequate understanding and acceptance of the disease, people may become more comfortable with their depression and feel comfortable seeking treatment The depression itself is causing the very shame that prevents you from reaching for help. Depression occurs in persons of all genders, ages, and backgrounds.

Depression is truly an innocent, shameless, blameless, physical disorder that makes you believe that something is wrong with YOU instead of your biochemistry. .

It is not a mystery anymore. It isn't your fault & you have a physical disorder, imbalance or deficiency. .

And the more you know & learn about your own biochemistry, the more often you will be able to see yourself and your illness as separate from yourself a split second at a time. There are lots of sufferers who just don't know they have depression, and

innocently blame their misery and suffering on family, other people and life circumstances. Symptoms like
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general unhappiness low self-esteem oversensitivity Difficulty getting along with others is innocently blamed on other people and life circumstances.

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Types of Depression

Major Depression - This is the most serious type of depression, in terms of number of symptoms and severity of symptoms, but there are significant individual differences in the symptoms and severity. You do not need to feel suicidal to have a major depression, and you do not need to have a history of hospitalizations either, although both of these factors are present in some people with major depression. There is no official diagnosis of "moderate depression."

Dysthymic Disorder - This refers to a low to moderate level of depression that persists for at least two years, and often longer. While the symptoms are not as severe as a major depression, they are more enduring and resistant to treatment. Some people with Dysthymia develop a major depression at some time during the course of their depression.

Unspecified Depression - This category is used to help researchers who are studying other specific types of depression, and do not want their data confounded with marginal diagnoses. It includes people with a serious depression, but not quite severe enough to have a diagnosis of a major depression. It also includes people with chronic, moderate depression, which has not been presented long enough for a diagnosis of a Dysthymic disorder.

Adjustment Disorder, with Depression - This category describes depression that occurs in response to a major life stressor or crisis.

Bipolar Depression - This type includes both high and low mood swings, as well as a variety of other significant symptoms not present in other depressions.

The Social Stigma One of the things that people with depression have to deal with is the perception of others around them. Depression, in the many forms that it may come through as, is considered by many to be a mental illness. Trying to live a normal life while living with these circumstances can be very difficult because of how others see the person who suffers from depression. There is definitely a social stigma attached to being a depressive. Employers, co-workers, teachers and even friends who you have known for years
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may view you differently if they become aware of what you have to deal with.

Facts Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide. Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide. Depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care. Fewer than 25 % of those affected have access to effective treatments.

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Treatment for Depression Depression can be reliably diagnosed in primary care. Antidepressant medications and brief, structured forms of psychotherapy are effective for 60-80 % of those affected and can be delivered in primary care. However, fewer than 25 % of those affected (in some countries fewer than 10 %) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include the lack of resources, lack of trained providers, and the social stigma associated with mental disorders including depression. There are currently many treatments available, both medication and through psychological therapy. The majority of medication available to depression sufferers is antidepressant drugs. Most of these aim to conduct a physical change in the brain, often by increasing the production of serotonin. While these medications are extremely effective at restraining the symptoms of depression, they do not cure the disease. The therapies available are able to help the person find ways to restrict their depressed thoughts and eliminate the causes for these thoughts. In many cases this is a long term cure for depression that provides the sufferer with methods to controlling their condition.

The most common of these are Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). CBT focuses on the person's thoughts and feelings about the world. While believing that negative thinking is a kind of habit, the logic is that all habits can be broken, allowing the sufferer to discover a more positive view of the world. Interpersonal Therapy works under the belief that depression is linked to social functioning. Therefore, how a person deals with social situations such as work, as well as their individual relationships with others. Due to the difference in core beliefs of these two common
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The length of treatment will vary, according to the severity of the depression, and the number and kind of life problems that need to be addressed. Most people will begin to experience some relief with 6 to 10 sessions, and approximately 70-80% of those treated notice significant improvement within 20-30 sessions. Mild depression may be treated in less sessions, and more significant depression may require extended treatment. Treatment sessions are usually scheduled once per week, although they may be scheduled more frequently initially, or if the person is experiencing significant life crises. It is important that people are aware of this choice in treatments for their condition. Conclusion Depression is treatable; however we now rely on society to improve the current understanding of the condition to allow these treatments to reach those that need them. The role of the family as well as the society in enhancing the depressed person is a crucial factor in bringing them back to the social main stream just like any other person. Just like any other physical ailment, depression is a curable illness but the main difference in its treatment is the emotional or the psychological approach towards the affected person in regaining their lost vitality to the possible extent.


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