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Finding the Best Depression Treatment

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Tips for Dealing with Depression Stigma: A Guide

Medically Reviewed By Lori Lawrenz, PsyD

Depression stigma can make it harder for some people to improve their mental health. However, various approaches can help, including getting professional care, finding social support, and learning more about depression. For some people, negative views may make it more difficult to get help or recover. As a result, stigmas about depression can create unfair and harmful situations.

However, there are various approaches that may help you deal with stigma and take care of your mental health while you recover.

This article discusses how to deal with depression stigma, including self-care advice, solutions, and recommendations for when to talk with a professional.

Consider professional help 

Stigma can make some people avoid reaching out for help or talking with healthcare professionals. This can mean:

  • receiving a delayed diagnosis Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source
  • not receiving needed treatment
  • experiencing a lower quality of life
  • experiencing more isolation

If you are dealing with stigma or are unsure how to get help for depression, talk with a primary care healthcare professional such as a doctor. They can recommend treatment plans and refer you to mental health experts, such as psychotherapists or counselors.  

Mental health professionals may also be able to offer insights and coping strategies to help deal with stigma.

For some people, working with mental health professionals may also offer reassurance and reinforce the reality that depression is a true medical concern. This can help counter the stigma around mental health conditions.

Learn more about the types of therapists for depression and how to choose.

Look for supportive social groups

Being in a supportive social group can help you connect with others facing similar challenges and help avoid feelings of isolation.

Peer support may also help you:

  • feel understood
  • experience positive, enjoyable interactions
  • learn new coping strategies for dealing with stigma or other aspects of depression

A 2022 review of studies suggested that both individual and group peer support have positive effects on young adults’ mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source , being connected with others may also improve your ability to recover from depression.

Ask your local healthcare facilities if they are aware of any nearby groups.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America runs online peer support communities in English and Spanish. Mental Health America also provides guidance on finding in-person and online support groups around the country.

Do research

Doing your own research can give you more knowledge about the nature of depression, its symptoms, and available treatment options. This may support you when dealing with depression stigma by helping you:

  • identify misconceptions or incorrect negative views
  • separate your identity or self-worth from the condition
  • recognize that your condition is a common and treatable Trusted Source National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Governmental authority Go to source health issue
  • ignore negative views by reminding you that your experiences are supported by medical research
  • advocate for yourself and feel more confident in expressing your needs and experiences

Find more information about depression, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Prioritize self-care

Self-care means supporting your physical, emotional, and mental health.

Ways to practice self-care for depression include Trusted Source National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Governmental authority Go to source :

  • getting regular physical activity
  • eating a balanced diet, such as a Mediterranean diet
  • getting enough good quality sleep
  • practicing gratitude, such as by keeping a gratitude or self-love diary

Self-care may help you manage stress Trusted Source National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Governmental authority Go to source , increase your energy, and boost your confidence. As a result, dealing with stigma may become more manageable.

Read more about what you can do to overcome depression, and how to get started.

Practice self-compassion

A key aspect of self-care with depression is self-compassion, or treating yourself with kindness and understanding. This can be like how a good friend or supportive healthcare professional would treat you.

Self-compassion is key in managing depression and stigma, as many people may experience symptoms such as low self-worth or harsh self-criticism as a result.

A small 2019 study suggests that participating in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can help enhance self-compassion and reduce depression.

Mindfulness and cognitive therapy approaches teach thinking patterns with the aim of decreasing self-judgment and strengthening emotional resilience.

Try using inclusive language

The type of language you use to discuss depression can shape Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source perceptions and treatment.

For example, saying “I have depression” instead of “I am depressed,” may help acknowledge that you are not defined by your mental health. This may also help remind you and others that you have a diagnosable health condition, compared to implying that it defines your personality or general feelings.

Still, when it comes to discussing your own health and depression, the important thing is to describe it however feels most comfortable to you.

Speak out about stigma if you can

Speaking out against misconceptions can play an important role in challenging stereotypes and discrimination — especially if you are well-informed about depression.

If you feel safe and comfortable, discussing your opinions and experience can help correct inaccurate or negative beliefs. This includes personal conversations, social media, or public forums.

However, do not worry if you don’t feel comfortable speaking out about stigma. Instead, listening to others who speak out about depression may help you feel supported.

If you don’t have depression yourself, speaking out against depression stigma can also help support people with depression you care for and care about.

Learn about protection

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people from discrimination or harassment at work due to their depression.

The ADA means that:

  • You have the right to keep your condition private in certain situations.
  • You may have the right to reasonable accommodations at work, such as time to go to therapy appointments.
  • It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because of your condition, including:
    • firing you because of depression
    • rejecting you for a job or promotion because of depression
    • forcing you to take leave for depression

Employers don’t have to keep people in a job if they can’t carry out the work or pose a safety risk. However, the ADA does mean that employers cannot use stereotypes or myths to evaluate your ability or risk.

If you feel you are experiencing stigma at work or school, try to find out what support or reporting system is available within the organization. You can also contact the ADA and file a complaint.

Know where to find help

If you are finding it hard to manage depression and its stigma on your own, you may find more help below:

Local healthcare facilities and healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses may also be able to recommend local care options, including low cost options. Social workers and religious counselors may also be able to offer help if you do not have access to a healthcare professional.

Summary

The stigma surrounding depression can lead to seriously adverse outcomes, as it can cause barriers to recovery and accessing treatment.

Ways to deal with depression stigma include:

  • talking with a healthcare professional
  • learning more about depression and protection against discrimination
  • prioritizing self-care
  • using inclusive or compassionate language
  • speaking out against stigma if you feel comfortable to
  • knowing where to find help if needed

Talk with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, or mental health professional for help with depression and any stigma.

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Medical Reviewer: Lori Lawrenz, PsyD
Last Review Date: 2024 Jun 7
View All Finding the Best Depression Treatment Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.