Disorders and Treatment
- Mental Illness
- Bipolar Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Borderline Personality
- Mental Health Diagnosis
- Mental Health Treatments
- Alternative Meds
- Case Studies
When we participate in a situation through observation, we are experiencing the situation vicariously. Usually there are emotional responses to what we are witnessing. It could be a football game or imagining ourselves climbing Mt. Everest as we read about an expedition.
Vicarious experience gives us information and shapes our perceptions, though the experience is not physically ours.
Knowing someone who has depression and witnessing the struggle is a vicarious experience, one that affects our attitude about the illness and its treatment.
We do not choose this experience and purchase tickets or buy the book. When a friend, family member, or coworker has depression, the experience chooses us because we are there.
If you are depressed, and have no previous experience with depression, realize that your reluctance to get help or try medication might be owed to a lack of experience with the illness. Consider that your assumptions about depression may be false.
If you have a friend, family member, or patient who struggles with taking antidepressants, consider that person's past experience with depression or ask him or her what the experience has been like. Although taking medication is a personal choice, an individual might need education about depression or will benefit from talking to people who take (or have taken) an antidepressant.
Source: Berkowitz SA, Bell RA, Kravitz RL, Feldman MD (2012) Vicarious Experience Affects Patients' Treatment Preferences for Depression. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31269.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031269
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