Self-stigma for the time of passing — an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experience of older women struggling with depression in the course of mood disorders
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Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Wydział Filozoficzny, Instytut Psychologii
Krakowski Instytut Psychoterapii
Anna Bańbura-Nowak   

Uniwersytet Jagielloński
Submission date: 2020-10-08
Final revision date: 2020-12-20
Acceptance date: 2021-01-07
Publication date: 2021-06-15
Psychoter 2021;196(1):75–90
Self-stigma associated with mental disorders can be an additional cause of suffering for those affected. Our intention was to extend the assumption made in the literature that the phenomenon of self-stigma is accompanied by only negative consequences. We made an attempt to describe and understand the ways of experiencing oneself and relationships with others in the context of suffering from depression, and we also reflected on the multitude of possible meanings of self-stigma.

Based on the data collected during individual interviews with six women aged 60+, hospitalized due to the severity of an episode of depression in the course of mood disorders, we conducted an interpretative phenomenological analysis.

We have identified three meanings that preoccupation with an illness may have and described them in the areas of: (1) Dealing with depression as an important aspect of identity; (2) Depression as one of the aspects around which thinking about the future is structured; (3) Depression as a regulator of interpersonal relations.

Self-stigma was manifested in the respondents in the form of a severe devaluation of themselves and the experience of being overwhelmed with critical thoughts about themselves. It seems, however, that the recurring perception of oneself through the prism of the illness could also fulfil some protective functions: filling the void left by former roles; protecting against confrontation with passing and creating opportunities for contact with others. On the basis of the obtained results, we presented suggestions for the psychoeducation of older people struggling with depression: encouraging them to create narratives about their past, enabling contact with peers affected by similar concerns, abandoning attempts to encourage changes in the way of experiencing oneself and revising self-narration.