Utilizing Education and Perspective Taking to Remediate the Stigma of Taking Antidepressants

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Community Mental Health Journal

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The incidence of depression has been increasing. One of the best interventions for depression is taking antidepressant medications. However, the stigma of taking antidepressants has been shown to be a barrier not only to seeking an antidepressant regimen but also adhering to it. This may have negative consequences for people who suffer from depression. Thus, in two studies, we investigate the incidence of felt stigma of taking antidepressants among clinically depressed individuals who take antidepressants and the effectiveness of two possible interventions to reduce this stigma among others. Study 1 revealed that stigma toward individuals who take antidepressants is a reality, either because people were not educated about depression and antidepressants, or because they did not show empathy or did not take on perspectives from the victim's point-of-view. Based on these results, we used an experimental design in Study 2 to investigate the effects of education and perspective-taking interventions in diminishing the stigma of taking antidepressants. These results suggest that participant gender played a moderating role in the effectiveness of education and perspective taking, such that a combination of the two interventions resulted in lower stigma for men but not for women. These results suggest that people can be trained (using a simple, low-fidelity intervention) to be more accepting of antidepressant use among their friends, family members, and colleagues, resulting in better outcomes for those who benefit from taking antidepressants.

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