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In Depression, Discrimination Has Adverse Social Impact

Last Updated: October 18, 2012.

For individuals with major depressive disorder, discrimination adversely affects social participation and vocational integration, according to a study published online Oct. 18 in The Lancet.

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- For individuals with major depressive disorder, discrimination adversely affects social participation and vocational integration, according to a study published online Oct. 18 in The Lancet.

Antonio Lasalvia, M.D., from the University of Verona in Italy, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of 1,082 people with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder interviewed in 39 sites across 35 countries to examine experienced and anticipated discrimination. Participants completed the discrimination and stigma scale (version 12).

The researchers found that 79 percent of participants reported an experience of discrimination in at least one life domain. Considerable proportions of participants stopped themselves from initiating a close personal relationship (37 percent); applying for work (25 percent); and applying for education or training (20 percent). Elevated levels of experienced discrimination correlated significantly with multiple lifetime psychiatric depressive episodes, one or more lifetime psychiatric hospitalization, and poorer level of social functioning. There was a significantly lower willingness to disclose a diagnosis of depression for those who had experienced discrimination. Many participants who anticipated discrimination in finding or keeping a job and in their intimate relationship had not experienced discrimination (47 and 45 percent, respectively), suggesting that anticipated discrimination did not necessarily correlate with experienced discrimination.

"Our findings show that discrimination acts as a barrier to social participation and successful vocational integration for many people with depression, and suggest that new and sustained approaches are needed to prevent and reduce or eliminate discrimination," the authors write.

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