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Burnout and Depression: Does Label-Related Stigma Prevent People From Getting Help?

Are you (or do you know someone that is) depressed? Maybe burnt-out? Is there even a difference between burn-out and depression? These are all valid questions, unfortunately, they may in fact not be the most important question we should be considering. Label-related stigma can have a material impact on people with mental health issues to seek help in time.

Perhaps a better query would be whether the “stigma” associated with the labels “depressed” or “burnt-out” prevent us or those we care about from seeking the help that we/they need? When you think about it this could be very troublesome indeed.

Mental health issues are often viewed as unsubstantial

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes, if not in all, then at least in many cases, the stigma behind the term depressed or burnt out does (or can) prevent the person suffering from seeking help. The problem therein lies in the way that the public views mental health conditions (of almost any type). They are viewed as predominantly unsubstantial when compared to “physical” conditions by the general population. Fortunately, in recent years there has been real progress in this area in the form of better education and understanding of mental conditions. That being said, the stigma tied to these labels still exist.

Like any stigma or label, this one can be harmful. After all, if something is predominantly thought of as a sign of weakness or as a cry for attention it is in our nature as human beings to pretend it doesn’t exist. Or at least do as much as possible to not display (or seek help) for the traits or behavior associated with the stigma. Nobody wants to think they are being judged for admitting they are depressed or burnt-out.

A label does not define a person

The most important thing to remember is that a “label” is not who you are. There is no one word that defines any person, nobody is simply depressed or burnt-out. There is an underlying cause behind all of it. What should be focused on is not the label itself but the person attached to it. Everyone has experienced depression or been burnt-out. There is no shame in admitting it or in seeking help. It is true that many people find that they are able to pull through without assistance. That is a good thing, but if you are not, does that simply mean that you should not be able to recover, to reclaim some semblance of happiness in your life?

No, it does not. The fact is that stigmata are a part of reality. They are not fair nor are they nearly as accurate as some would believe. But they are not going anywhere, at least nor anytime soon. Rather than let that stigma prevent you from seeking help (or encouraging someone else to) it is imperative that you do not allow it to stand in the way of recovery.

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Latest update: October 19, 2016