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Belief in the harmfulness of antidepressants: Results from a national survey of the Australian public




Jorm, Anthony F
Christensen, Helen
Griffiths, Kathleen

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Background: Surveys of the public in several countries have found that negative attitudes towards antidepressants are common. However, there has been little research into the factors associated with these attitudes. Methods: A national survey of 999 Australian adults assessed beliefs about the helpfulness or harmfulness of antidepressants for a person with depression and suicidal thoughts. Associated factors investigated were as follows: sociodemographic characteristics, exposure to depression, ability to recognize depression, beliefs about other depression interventions, beliefs about long-term outcomes with and without treatment, beliefs about causes, and stigmatizing attitudes. Results: Around a quarter of Australian adults believe that antidepressants would be harmful for a person who is depressed and suicidal. This group was less educated, had less exposure to depression, showed poorer recognition of depression, was less favorable about other standard interventions including psychological ones, was less pessimistic about the long-term outcome if the person did not have treatment, and was more likely to see depression as due to weakness and to be under the individual's control. Limitations: The survey did not directly ask about reasons for believing that antidepressants would be harmful. Conclusions: Belief in the harmfulness of antidepressants is associated with a general lack of exposure to depression, leading to an underestimation of its seriousness and of the necessity for intervention.



Keywords: antidepressant agent; adult; article; attitude; Australia; clinical trial; controlled clinical trial; controlled study; demography; depression; drug exposure; female; health survey; human; long term care; major clinical study; male; medical research; prio Antidepressants; Attitudes; Mental health literacy



Journal of Affective Disorders


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