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J Affect Disord. 2004 Dec;83(2-3):177-82.

Public attitudes to people with depression: have there been any changes over the last decade?

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Johannisstr.20, 04317 Leipzig, Germany.



A consistent finding of representative surveys that were conducted in Germany in the early 1990s was that people with depression encountered a substantial amount of stigma and discrimination. The aim of this study was to examine whether public attitudes have improved over the last decade or not.


In 2001, a representative survey was carried out among the adult population of the "old" Federal Republic of Germany using the same methodology as in a previous survey in 1990.


Regarding emotional reactions of the respondents towards people with depression, our findings are inconsistent. While there has been an increase in the readiness to feel pity and also a slight increase in the tendency to react aggressively, the expression of fear remained unchanged. The public's desire for social distance from people with depression was as strong in 2001 as it had been in 1990.


The hypothesis of a change for the better regarding public attitudes towards depressed people is not supported by our findings. Further efforts are needed to reach this goal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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