Stigmatization and framing, something to get ‘’depressed’’ about?

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems worldwide and continues to rise
every year. However, there still appears to be a stigma on depression what stops people with
depression from seeking help or social support, which has negative consequences for their burden of disease. Literature showed that two dominant frames contribute to the stigmatizing views about them: the responsibility frame and the medical frame. Moreover, alternative frames help to
deproblematize and destigmatize depression. The aim of this study is to understand how people with depression experience stigmatization in practice and how these experiences are related to framing. This leads to the following research question: ‘’What kind of stigma do people with depressionexperience, how is this related to dominant frames about depression, and can potential alternative frames they use themselves lead to destigmatization?’’.

A thematic analysis of written patient stories was used to examine how people with
depression experience the current framing, what the consequences are of its corresponding
stigmatization and how their alternative framing could influence this process of stigmatization. The advantage of written patient stories is that they offer the possibility to also investigate the social aspects of patient experiences in depth.

According to this study, people with depression experience the responsibility – and – medical
frame at the same time. The responsibility frame mainly has a strong influence on the public stigma: people with depression are given various prejudices (for example being weird or a burden) because they probably behave ‘differently’ than what society expects of them and the society does not (fully) understand how their depression might have an impact on this. The medical frame mainly results in a professional stigma. Treatment by healthcare professionals is often perceived as disrespectful and incoherent, as a result of no – or a wrong – diagnosis being made. The different forms of stigma, resulting from both frames, lead to self-stigma. This influences people’s search and continuation of treatment and therefore their recovery, social (re) integration and quality of life. Patients use an alternative frame to destigmatize depression: the holistic frame. The focus here is on the person as a whole; being part of social networks and in need social of support, and capable of participating in society. Depression is seen as a learning process. Strategies of contact and education about depression (in parallel) could help to embed this frame in society.

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Aandoening Depressie
Thema Stigmatisering
Auteur Margot Verwijmeren
Jaar 2022
Publicatie type Scriptie


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