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Friday, October 19, 2012

Living With Depression And Discrimination

On the Threshold of Eternity
On the Threshold of Eternity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living with depression

In case you didn't know, October 11th was National Depression Screening Day. If you missed it, then it is still not too late to take an anonymous online assessment. Living with depression is difficult, but how much do we really understand of how depression impacts the person suffering from depression? The person with depression clearly understands that depression is not just a phase, but a real disorder that sets them apart and leads to isolation.

New study examines depression and resulting discrimination

This week U.S. News and World Reports' HealthDay published an article on a new study that examined a global pattern of perceived or anticipated discrimination reported by those who suffer from major depressive disorder. Here is an overview of this study:
  • The research was conducted by British researchers using a questionnaire.
  • 1082 people from 35 countries completed the questionnaire.
  • 79% of the respondents reported experiencing discrimination in at least one life domain
  • 37% reported that anticipated discrimination stopped them from initiating close personal relationships
  • 25% reported that they had not applied for work because they expected to be discriminated 
  • However, even though many patients anticipated discrimination, did not experience it. This includes 47% who thought they would face discrimination when applying for a job and 45% who were concerned they would face discrimination in personal relationships. 
  • Importantly, 71% of the patients said they tried to conceal their depression. (This could keep patients from seeking treatment.)
You can read more about the study's details on The Lancet's Early Online Publication (October 18, 2012).

Revisiting the question: "Are you living with depression?"

Just about a month ago we told you about a CNN iReport assignment. CNN asked for input: "If you suffer from depression - or have suffered - we want to hear your story." It turns out that 167 iReports were filed and CNN chose six stories to profile and you can listen to their stories here.

Understanding depression

Discrimination, actual or perceived, is usually born out of ignorance, misinformation or fear. We grow up learning from our parents, our extended family, our teachers and our friends. Often misconceptions held by one generation are passed on to the next in very subtle ways. This is particularly true when it comes to mental health issues. The only way to move forward and beyond the fear of what we don't know or understand is to get informed and stay informed.  Perhaps your life has not been directly or indirectly impacted by someone who is suffering from depression; however, it is important to remember that globally it is estimated that 121 million people suffer from depression.  Here is a booklet on depression prepared by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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