Stopping Depression Stigma Starts With You

April 10, 2014 Erin Schulthies

Stigma is a negative stereotype often associated with mental illnesses like depression. After we receive a depression diagnosis, many of us start to worry that people are going to call us "crazy," or use other offensive language while judging us for having symptoms of depression.

Depression stigma can be seen in the media and elsewhere but, surprisingly, it can also be seen in the mirror. Learn how to stop depression self-stigma.My biggest problem with depression stigma has been self-stigma: the harsh ways I used to judge myself for having depression.

I grew up with a strong perfectionistic drive and have always judged myself harshly. When my depression symptoms worsened to the point of really interfering with my life, I became even meaner with myself.

To top it off, having a doctor diagnose me with depression just made me hate myself more.

Learning About Depression Can Help You Stop Self-Stigma

It took years of treatment for me to learn how to stop beating myself up for having depression. I learned that depression is a common illness with many treatment options. No one is at fault for developing a mental illness, ever.

Once I stopped thinking of my depression as shameful, I realized that maybe the world outside of me might not judge me harshly, either.


Now I feel confident enough to speak up against stigmatizing language I hear in the media and in everyday conversations. One way you can stop stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses is to ask yourself if the headlines you read and the language you hear uses stereotypes or belittles people with mental illnesses. If so, don't be afraid to speak up. Change happens slowly, but we all have the power to change the world for the better.

You can also find Erin Schulthies on Twitter, on Google+, on Facebook and on her blog, Daisies and Bruises: The Art of Living with Depression.

APA Reference
Schulthies, E. (2014, April 10). Stopping Depression Stigma Starts With You, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Erin Schulthies

Leigh Busby
May, 10 2014 at 9:46 pm

Yeah,time out for feeling ashamed ,I have outed myself this past year on social media and lost lots of folks whom meant nothing to me anyway,lol,who cares ,as long as I am free to be me ,I feel comfortable in my own skin ,no need to be motivated by others ,I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,this means also becoming more opened to outing ourselves so people won't be able to out us before we're prepared to be public.I now found there is no reason to be ashamed and hidden at home because of some dumb stigma !

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
May, 12 2014 at 4:57 pm

Hi Leigh,
Thanks so much for your comment. It sounds like you've got some practice in being your own cheerleader and not letting stigma stand in your way. Good for you!! :) Erin

April, 21 2014 at 3:18 pm

I am glad tat I am finally realization tat I need help n I don't know how to get it....I am trying to figure out how to live again.... Will I ever find the right place for me? Is it all me or am I crazy????

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
April, 23 2014 at 3:57 pm

Hi Jackee,
It's very common to worry that you're crazy when first recognizing signs of needing help. Don't worry - you're not crazy! There is definitely a right place for you and seeking help is the way to get there. HealthyPlace has a ton of great links to help you learn about all kinds of mental illnesses and steps to get help. If you identify with depression, like in this post you're commenting on, I recommend starting with Depression Treatment Options or our Mental Health Hotlines and Referral Resources page. There are many avenues for getting help. Don't give up - you deserve it! Thanks for your comment and take care!

April, 21 2014 at 4:06 pm

In the video she says that depression is a mental illness. A mental disorder and mental illness are not the same thing, right? I just need clarification because I've read conflicting information on other sites and articles

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
April, 23 2014 at 3:49 pm

Hi Ellie!
Thanks for your comment! I believe that the terms "mental disorder" and "mental illness" are interchangeable, but a mental health professional might tell you differently. I recommend asking someone like a psychiatrist to be certain.

Pam Jarrett
April, 21 2014 at 3:08 pm

I have found who my friends are and who they aren' based on self-disclosure. Since I have gone on SSDI it is easier to be 'out' as I don't have a workplace to worry about. I have come out within my small-town church in this way: when I was in the hospital and I made my pastor announce to the congregation that I was in the psych ward at x hospital. I actually got cards and letters when I got home, and people called to ask how I was. No more 'dirty little secret.' I even got some letters and thank yous from people in the congregation who had suffered depression. I think it did the church good and it made my life a lot more honest.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
April, 23 2014 at 4:00 pm

Hi Pam,
What a great story! It sounds like reaching out to one person you trusted really helped you trust many more people - the whole congregation. Good for you for taking those brave steps and recognizing your need for support while in hospital and coming back home. Thank you so much for your comment. :)

Diane Graceffo
April, 15 2014 at 6:24 am

This is me. Practically word for word. It took me a long time to I my illness. I was also drug addicted and alcoholic. Getting the right psychiatrist and therapist and support group has changed my life. As for the stigma. I have a great group of people in my life that know me a long time and are so happy to see me get well. As for the people that don't understand, well their not worth my time and honestly I don't care what they think. I don't owe anyone an explanation

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Erin Schulthies
April, 17 2014 at 4:33 am

Hi Diane!
Thanks for your comment! Yes, being surrounded by the right supportive people makes a world of difference, especially with therapists and other people who have been there, too. I think HealthyPlace provides a similar realm of respect and encouragement. :)

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