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- Main article: Clinical depression
As the most common affective disorder and mental illness, depression is much better understood within society than Schizophrenia, for example. However, unlike physical illnesses, there is a mental barrier of perspective which is difficult to cross. People who do not suffer from depression often find it difficult to understand how or why a sufferer could feel so bad, or else cannot understand the intensity, even if the causes are understood.
On the other hand, many people suffering from depression have been shown to have a negative attentional bias, and often interpret the world in a negative and depressing manner. This bias explains why it can be difficult for a depressed person to understand how other people avoid becoming depressed, why other people do not understand their feelings, or that they will ever be able to experience happiness again.
As most people experience unhappiness, grief, anguish and even despair at some point in their lives, there is often more sympathy for this condition than for other mental illnesses. However, individuals who are not clinically depressed may think that they fully understand the experiences of a clinically depressed individual. This can create a frustrating situation, as the non-depressed person may believe that the depressed person is exaggerating their feelings of sadness.
Expression of painful emotions in art, music and spirituality serve as an outlet for such feelings, which are not always available by other means. Interestingly, it was suggested that the expression of grief around the world when Princess Diana died was as much an outlet for people's personal grief, as very few people actually knew her personally.
Different groups within society are affected by depression differently, both in terms of the experience itself, the causes of the depression, and the reaction of others to their depression.
- Main article: Depression:Depression and work.
- Main article: Depression:Depression and unemployment.
- Main article: Depression:Social attitudes to depression.