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Good Housekeeping
Jennifer Chan, Assistant Managing Editor
April 16, 2012

Study Shows We May Have Become Desensitized to Mental Illness

We may be dismissing conditions like depression and other mood-related disorders, thus depriving affected family and friends of much-needed support. By Jennifer Chan

Battling with depression is no joke. However, we have become so familiar with it that, according to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, we may have actually become desensitized to it.

Psychiatrists’ labeling practices apparently have had a hand in our increasing indifference. After all, how common is it for us to say that we’re depressed or that a situation is so depressing? We may even have accused others of being bipolar or schizo at some point. While being aware and understanding what having these conditions mean is likely a good thing, researchers also believe that some of us may end up downplaying the seriousness of these medical illnesses.

As part of her study, assistant professor of sociology Brea L. Perry at the University of Kentucky analyzed the interviews of 165 individuals with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression--as well as a host of other less severe disorders--who were undergoing mental health treatment for the first time. According to her findings, patients with depression and mild mood disorders didn’t receive strong reactions about their condition from their family, friends, and other people who had interacted with them. While these patients are not discriminated against, there is a possibility that people would be less inclined to spend time to look after them or accept that they actually have a valid mental condition. 

On the other hand, those with manic bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are in a different boat. They are more likely to be rejected by society, but their family and close friends are probably going to become fiercely protective of them. 

Either way, dealing with any health condition is made easier when there is a strong support network. Whether it’s a mental or physical illness, a little bit of understanding can still go a long way. 


(Photo by Corrie... via Flickr Creative Commons)

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Jennifer Chan
Assistant Managing Editor
Jennifer Chan was a contributing writer for Female Network for two years before formally joining the team as a staff writer in July 2012... Read more...
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