"Depression is who I am": mental illness identity, stigma and wellbeing

Cruwys, Tegan and Gunaseelan, Sathiavaani (2016) "Depression is who I am": mental illness identity, stigma and wellbeing. Journal of Affective Disorders, 189 36-42. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2015.09.012

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Author Cruwys, Tegan
Gunaseelan, Sathiavaani
Title "Depression is who I am": mental illness identity, stigma and wellbeing
Journal name Journal of Affective Disorders   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0165-0327
1573-2517
Publication date 2016
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jad.2015.09.012
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 189
Start page 36
End page 42
Total pages 7
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Previous research has found that in the face of discrimination, people tend to identify more strongly with stigmatized groups. Social identification can, in turn, buffer wellbeing against the negative consequences of discrimination. However, this rejection identification model has never been tested in the context of mental illness identity.

Methods: A survey was conducted with 250 people with diagnosed depression or current symptoms of at least moderate clinical severity.

Results: Experiencing mental illness stigma was associated with poorer wellbeing. Furthermore, people who had experienced such stigma were more likely to identify as a depressed person. Social identification as depressed magnified, rather than buffered, the relationship between stigma and reduced wellbeing. This relationship was moderated by perceived social norms of the depressed group for engaging in depressive thoughts and behaviors.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that mental illness stigma is a double-edged sword: as well as the direct harms for wellbeing, by increasing identification with other mental illness sufferers, stigma might expose sufferers to harmful social influence processes.
Keyword Mood disorders
Mental health
Social identity
Discrimination
Normative influence
Health behavior
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 01 Oct 2015, 11:34:40 EST by Tegan Cruwys on behalf of School of Psychology