Almost 80% of depression patients say they have been discriminated against, new research has revealed.
A report published in The Lancet says 34% of those quizzed by researchers believed others had actively kept away from them due to their illness.
Professor Graham Thornicroft. from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, led the study compiled from 1,082 questionnaires completed by patients receiving help for depression in 35 different countries.
More than one in three of those who took part had been discouraged from starting an intimate relationship because they believed the other person would be put off by their mental health issues. And one in four claimed they were so convinced their depression would stop them getting a job that they chose not to apply for the position.
But the study showed that often discrimination was less severe in reality than they had expected. Almost half (47%) had expected to be treated differently at work but actually encountered no discrimination and 45% found depression hadn’t affected their personal relationships in the way they had feared.
The research did highlight potential issues with sufferers being too ashamed of their condition to ask for help, with 71% of participants admitting to wanting to keep their depression secret.
Prof Thornicroft said this was the first time an international study had concentrated on actual experiences of discrimination against people with depression rather than just perceptions.
He said the research showed discrimination was common and often hindered the chances of people with depression living a full life when it came to employment and relationships.