Self-stigma, empowerment and perceived discrimination among people with bipolar disorder or depression in 13 European countries: the GAMIAN-Europe study

J Affect Disord. 2011 Mar;129(1-3):56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.09.001.


Background: There is little information on the degree to which self-stigma is experienced by individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or depression across Europe. This study describes the levels of self-stigma, stigma resistance, empowerment and perceived discrimination reported in these groups.

Methods: Data were collected from 1182 people with bipolar disorder or depression using a mail survey with members of national mental health non-governmental organisations.

Results: Over one fifth of the participants (21.7%) reported moderate or high levels of self-stigma, 59.7% moderate or high stigma resistance, 63% moderate or high empowerment, and 71.6% moderate or high perceived discrimination. In a reduced multivariate model 27% of the variance in self-stigma scores, among people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or depression, was accounted for by levels of empowerment, perceived discrimination, number of areas of social contact, education and employment.

Limitations: Findings are limited by the use of an unweighted sample of members of mental health charity organisations which may be unrepresentative of the reference population.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that self-stigma occurs among approximately 1 in 5 people with bipolar disorder or depression in Europe. The tailoring of interventions to counteract (or fight against) the elements of self-stigma which are most problematic for the group, be they alienation, stereotype endorsement, social withdrawal or discrimination experience, may confer benefit to people with such disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment / psychology
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Prejudice*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Isolation / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires