Depression sufferers may not get the support they need

People showing signs of depression may not evoke strong supportive responses from friends and family. This is according to new research published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, which found this to be the case as a result of mental illness definitions becoming broader.

The study revealed individuals may not be as sympathetic to those with more common illnesses – such as mood changes and depression – compared to people experiencing severe disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia.

Brea Perry, author of the report, noted that as a result of so many adults being successfully treated for more socially-accepted conditions, perhaps “signs of depression do not alarm friends and family members to the same degree as disorders known to severely affect functioning”.

And while more common illnesses are recognised as legitimate by medical professionals, Ms Perry observed the wider public may be less willing to accept these sufferers should be playing a sick role.

Dr Cecilia d’Felice, Chartered Psychologist, commented: “It is not surprising that depression is a mental illness that friends and family find hard to understand.

“Sufferers usually withdraw from social networks, lack motivation and have global negative responses to themselves, their world and their future.

“They often reject attempts of support and empathy as they feel so worthless and hopeless. This can be hard for those who care for them to cope with and there is a danger that help is withdrawn because there is a sense that their help is being rejected.

“The more aware we all are as to the realities of what a major depressive illness means to the sufferer and to those supporting them, the better our understanding and the greater the depth of support that can then be offered.”


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