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Study Highlights Believing Biological Cause of Depression May Lead to Less Stigma

Editor's Note

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What we learned: A new study published in the Journal of Mental Health investigated attitudes about depression among 319 participants. Of those included in the study, nearly 50% had lived experience of depression and others had a loved one with depression. The goal of the study was to determine how beliefs about the cause of depression impacts stigma and people’s willingness to get care.

Beliefs and attitudes may influence decisions people make about whether to seek treatment for their own depression. They may also affect their reactions toward depressed individuals, including prejudice and discrimination. — study co-author Richard Contrada

The Frontlines: Depression affects more than 16 million people in the U.S. any given year, and attitudes about living with a mental illness can impact whether or not people seek help. Here’s what the study found:

  • The belief that depression had primarily biological causes led to participants thinking depression had serious consequences and was long-lasting, but also thought it was more treatable
  • Having lived experience or believing depression has a biological cause was associated with less negative attitudes about those with mental illnesses
  • Those who had lived experience or a loved one with depression who believe depression is a neurobiological or genetic disorder were least likely to report stigma

A Mighty Voice: Depression isn’t just caused by biology. Our contributor, Shawn Henfling, reminded readers that there’s still a lot we don’t know about the cause of depression. “Is it possible that some kind of imbalance is to blame or, more accurately, contributes to mental illness? Yes. But … the awful and unfortunate truth of mental illness is that we don’t know.” You can submit your first person story, too.

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From Our Community: 

What’s an “invisible” symptom you experience?

Add your voice: Join the Distract Me group on The Mighty by downloading our app or comment below.

Other things to know: For more insight on living with depression, read more from other Mighty community members who have been there:

More helpful thinking: If you’re struggling with depression, know you’re not alone and help is available. For depression resources, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website.

Header image via Sasha Freemind/Unsplash

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