Fighting the stigma of depression

    (Photo courtesy of Alaina Mabaso)

    (Photo courtesy of Alaina Mabaso)

    A Philadelphia woman shares her experience dealing with depression and answering uncomfortable questions, like ‘where have you been for the last few months?’

    If the name Alaina Mabaso sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve read her byline somewhere recently.  The freelance journalist juggles writing and editing assignments in the Delaware Valley and beyond.  She  writes about everything from her dislike of morning people to the best way to break up a fight on SEPTA at her Fiction Need Not Apply blog.

    Mabaso has struggled with depression and chronic pain for years.  Last summer, she was hospitalized for that depression at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland.  It was a short stay, but the experience left her traumatized.

    “I didn’t realize what had happened to me until after the doors were locked,” said Mabaso.

    It’s estimated that mood disorders like depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults between the ages of 18 and 44.  Millions suffer from depression but it is still considered by many to be shameful, and patients are not only socially stigmatized, but can be penalized by being passed over for jobs and housing.

    In her blog, Mabaso interviewed psychologist Jonathan Rottenberg, author of the book The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Rottenberg was also once hospitalized for depression and has advocated for the need to change attitudes about depression. We invited them into our studio to talk about the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.

    Mabaso wrote an essay for NewsWorks about her experience at Johns Hopkins.  She is also working on a memoir entitled “Elopement Risk: Dispatches from the Psych Ward.”  Jonathan Rottenberg is a professor of psychology and director of the Mood and Emotion Laboratory at the University of South Florida. He is the faculty adviser for Come Out of the Dark, a student organization campaigning for more awareness and a national conversation about depression. 

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