How To Deal With The Stigma Associated With A Mental Illness

Many people who suffer with depression feel ashamed or guilty about giving in to this disorder, this is especially so for someone who experiences depression for the first time in their lives. These feelings of guilt and shame are brought about by the way society in general looks on depressive illnesses, many non sufferers feel it is all in the head and that it is easy to just ” snap out of it”, other people look on anyone suffering a depressive illness as being “mad” believing as the Victorians did that they should be locked away for the sake of society. This stigma will often prevent a sufferer from seeking help, believing they have to keep their feelings a secret, this will only increase the severity of the disorder and prolong their suffering.

 

Below is a list of alternate ways of seeing a depressive illness which will hopefully help a person suffering depression to deal with the stigma associated with the disorder and maybe help non sufferers to see the illness in a different light too.

 

  • Depression is a real illness – just as your body can become ill so can your mind, mind and body are one entity. There is no stigma with a physical illness such as heart disease or cancer so why should we think differently about an illness of the mind

 

  • Suffering a depressive illness doesn’t mean you will have it for life – it is a treatable disease the same as any physical ailment

 

  • Not many people will go through life without ever suffering a mental trauma – all sorts of problems occur from personal or financial stress to bereavement or marriage breakdown. All these issues will affect us mentally, depression is not unique, anyone can suffer from it at anytime in their lives

 

  • If we suffer a broken leg we would seek help and treatment – in the same way we should seek help for our broken mind, they are both treatable ailments

 

  • Depression is not our fault – we have not done anything wrong and suffering a mental disorder is not a punishment

 

Hopefully the above statements will help someone suffering depression or other mental health issues to realise it is not their fault, it is an illness like any other and is completely treatable. There should be no feelings of guilt or shame and help and treatment should be sought at the earliest opportunity.

 

The more acceptance there is of mental illness the more it will be understood and it will become less and less stigmatised over time.

 

© Andrew Tudor Jones