W2: It’s NOT just in your head

Although I think we(as a society) have come a long way in terms of mental health disorders and how they are perceived I would still argue that the stigma associated with them is devastatingly harmful. The biggest example I can think of is depression and the stigma associated with it that it is just in the persons head. All they have to do is think positive and they will be just fine. They are just downers. Well this could not be more inaccurate. And telling an individual who suffers from depression terms like that does nothing to help them. I found a paper online by Lewis Wolpert called A Stigma of Depression – A personal view. Who provides examples where people were told too “pull their socks up” . He also goes on to say that the stigma associated with depression can prevent people from admitting they are even ill, which may lead to the people taking their own life for not being able to “cheer up”.

Another example he uses is, his own interaction with depression. He discuss how in the beginning his explanatory model was purely biological that his being depressed was caused by a reaction to a drug he took for another problem. That he had no psychological basis for having the disease. He then went on to say this was easier to accept for him than admitting he had anything to do with the illness. But with that theory what type of medical or mental help would he seek? I would expect that he would go off the drug he believed induced the “reaction”, but would that necessarily solve the problem, he also would not be seeking help from a psychiatrist. With that then his mental state could get worse. He then went on to say even his wife could not understand why he was depressed as they were happily married? And boom, there is the stigma. So medically his explanatory model gives him a form of treatment that may not work, and socially his wife believes there should not even be a problem.

In total I think the way people perceive mental health directly correlates to how it will be treated. Seeking medical treatment is a choice, one that the person with the problem needs to make. If a patient has fear for admitting they have it, or thinks it’s just in their head they may not seek help. IF they donThis then feeds into the stigma that it is in their head. It’s like this never ending loop.

Lewis Wolpert, “Stigma of depression – A personal view,” British Medical Bulletin 57:1 (2001): 221-224.


3 thoughts on “W2: It’s NOT just in your head

  1. Hello, Casandra. I would more than agree with your statement that the negative stigma attached to mental illness is still very much prevalent. In relation to your example of depression having a poor reputation, I have a friend who has dealt with depression and has felt the negativity toward the illness. She would make comments about not being able to “just cheer up” and that depression is actually much deeper. Being depressed is not a choice and something that can simply be overcome by choosing to do so. Instead, the illness is much more complex than that.
    I also believe that how people perceive a mental illness will directly correlate with treatment. In my blog post, I discussed that if the person suffering from an illness has a different explanatory model than the doctor trying to treat the patient, the treatment will not be successful. In order for treatment to be successful, a mutual understanding of the situation is needed and if not that, then trying to mesh the two explanatory models as best as possible. If there cannot be a common agreement between patient and doctor because of how each see the situation, the prescribed treatment will not surmount.
    Great blog post and I look forward to reading more of your interpretations of the class materials.

  2. Hi Casandra! I agree as well that our society has come a long way in mental health, but there is so much more work to be done. Most people are not educated enough to sometimes even realize that they have a mental illness and cannot simply “cheer up”. I agree it is so sad and dangerous that there is such a negative stigma concerning mental illnesses. I also like how you brought up that the way a person perceives mental illnesses would effect the action they take. If people who have a negative stigma towards mental health surround you, then you will most likely hide your feelings and try to ignore them. Especially younger kids who have no idea what mental health is because we only talk about visual diseases or injuries. People should be able to get help without being ashamed. The wife in the article you read most likely did not mean her actions maliciously and might have been simply confused. But her actions still have a longing effect. In order for people to change their behavior, they must first know that it is wrong or hurtful. I hope one day this never ending loop breaks! Good luck with the rest of the course!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post because I think you brought up a lot of important topics involving the stigmas and discrimination people with mental illnesses face. Many times articles about mental illness are coming from an outsider’s point of view, whether it is a doctor or a family member of a person with a mental illness. This was very interesting to read and think about, how does a person’s view of their own mental illness affect their health? As we have learned, a person’s physical health is directly linked to their emotional health. Often people with mental illness are judged and misunderstood. For a person with a mental illness living in that sort of environment it must be extremely difficult and it could drastically affect their self-view. The part where you discuss how depression is not always something that can be found by simply looking at a person’s brain chemistry is important. This suggests, to me, that maybe treatments shouldn’t be focused so heavily on medication but more on improving emotional and mental health in a different way. A change in the way our society views mental health and those struggling with mental illness could improve the overall health of those suffering.

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