Attitudes towards people with depression: Effects on the public's help-seeking and outcome when experiencing common psychiatric symptoms

Anthony F. Jorm*, Jo Medway, Helen Christensen, Ailsa E. Korten, Patricia A. Jacomb, Bryan Rodgers

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    61 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objective: To determine whether people's attitudes towards a person who has experienced depression influence them in (i) the types of actions they take to help themselves if they experience common psychiatric symptoms, and (ii) the degree to which their symptoms improve. Method: A postal survey was carried out with 3109 adults to assess attitudes and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Attitudes were assessed by questions on a depressed person's likely long-term outcome in various areas of life and whether the respondents thought the depressed person was likely to experience discrimination. A follow-up survey was carried out 6 months later with 422 persons who had a high level of symptoms at baseline. These individuals were asked about whether they had taken various actions to relieve their symptoms. Results: The attitude measures did not predict use of actions which involved someone else having to know that the person had psychiatric symptoms, nor use of actions which did not. The attitude measures also did not predict change in anxiety and depression symptoms. Conclusions: The attitude measures did not predict patterns of help-seeking or outcome for people with common psychiatric symptoms. However, attitudes towards depression were quite benign and the situation could be different for people with severe mental disorders.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)612-618
    Number of pages7
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
    Volume34
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2000

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