Over 2 million people in the UK are affected by Major depressive disorder1,2

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious and debilitating form of depression that creates a ripple effect across every aspect of people's lives. MDD can impact a person’s relationships, career, physical health and overall quality of life.3,4,5

By taking the time to learn more about MDD and depression, and by encouraging those in need to get support, together we can break misconceptions, break stigma and ultimately break depression.

Show your support for #BreakingDepressionUK by sharing our campaign messages below.

About Breaking Depression

Breaking Depression aims to tackle misconceptions and stigma surrounding MDD, encourage open and honest conversations about mental health, and help support people living with or caring for someone with MDD. Empowering those affected by MDD to embrace their condition and have the confidence to seek support is an important first step in the journey to recovery.

MDD is a severe and chronic mood disorder which causes debilitating and persistent symptoms of depression that are present for at least two weeks, with episodes usually lasting months or years.6

Living with MDD can create a ripple effect across every aspect of someone’s life, often leading to isolation, avoidance, and an inability to engage in usual work or social activities.3,4,5  These feelings and experiences, as well as the fear of judgment, often prevent people from accessing help and support.

Breaking Depression explores the journey of living with MDD told through the Japanese art of kintsugi. The campaign uses kintsugi as a means of creative storytelling, to share the experiences of people with MDD and their caregivers, breaking down stigma and acknowledging that the repair process is complex.

The Breaking Depression campaign has been initiated by Janssen, a Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson, with support from the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks-Europe (GAMIAN-Europe) and the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI). The Breaking Depression UK campaign has been funded by Janssen and developed in partnership with SANE.

Kintsugi art

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken objects, translating as ‘golden joinery’. Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object and embraces imperfections rather than concealing them. Here we showcase several works of digital kintsugi art, inspired by stories from people living with MDD and those caring for someone with MDD. Their stories reveal that with time, care and patience, people with MDD can regain control of their lives, however complex, and begin the healing process.

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Christina

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Christina, 28, is a writer from London. She was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) by her GP in 2012, whilst at university.

I was first diagnosed with MDD in 2012, during my second year of university. I had been struggling with the workload and felt very stressed. When one of my assignments was graded a zero it was as if something snapped inside my head, everything came tumbling down. I had worked so hard and suddenly felt like it had all been for nothing. My immediate thoughts were, ‘what would I say to my family and friends?’

The next morning, I woke up and struggled to leave my bed. I spent most of the day in my room, and then I couldn’t sleep at night. I felt catatonic, in a daze. I just couldn’t bear to go outside. I lost all pleasure from food and hardly ate a thing. I couldn’t believe I’d fallen down like this and didn’t really understand what was happening to me. I just wanted to hide, I felt awful. That’s when my GP diagnosed me with MDD.

One of my biggest worries was telling my family. I’m from a south Asian background and there’s very little discussion around mental health in my culture. It’s still taboo, particularly within my parents’ generation. My Mum was really supportive, but my Dad struggled to understand it at first. He thought I was just feeling sad and worried about what other people might think if they found out.

I kept thinking I shouldn’t burden my friends with something like this and that they have enough to deal with. I didn’t want to become one of those friends. But over time, I gradually opened up about my diagnosis and explained to them what I was going through. They were great and really open to listening.

In the end, I failed my second year because of my MDD, and had to re-sit the whole year. I remember that feeling at graduation, the sense that I’d finally made it and that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

My advice to anyone who’s struggling with feelings of hopelessness, sadness or losing interest in eating or seeing friends like I was, is to reach out and talk to someone. If not someone close like a friend or family member, then don’t hesitate to see your GP or call a mental health charity. The first conversation can be hard, but it could be the first step to recovery. 

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Jayne

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Jayne, 61, provides support to her daughter Sophie, who has major depressive disorder (MDD). Sophie currently lives at home with her parents.

In 2018 Sophie hit rock bottom. She was living away from home, on her own and was in a terrible way. We’d speak on the phone almost every day and I would ask her how she was feeling and coping. It was so distressing knowing how unwell she was and eventually I insisted that she come home to live with us. Finally, after many years and to everyone’s relief, her GP diagnosed her with MDD.

When Sophie is in the midst of a depressive period, I’m there to provide mental support and physical support – at times, literally helping her out of bed. We’ve always had a close relationship but when she hits those troughs, she needs me to be there, sometimes just a presence, sometimes to talk, but other times just to sit together, silently.

It was always Sophie’s dream to travel and at the end of 2019 she went travelling for six months. Sophie was on her own in New Zealand when the first pandemic restrictions were announced and had to lock down in a house with other travellers. We were so worried about her. She couldn’t leave the house at all and it took weeks for the government to repatriate her back to the UK. I remember when she arrived back home with her suitcase, it was a great relief but also heart-breaking – she’d given up her job and home to go travelling, so this was a huge blow and she spiralled into another depressive episode.

I can see in her face and her demeanour when things aren’t right. We cling together and share the ups and downs. You have to look for the positives; Sophie is living with us; we have a great relationship and are able to talk. Maybe we wouldn’t have that without her depression.

I consider myself good at self-preservation. Supporting Sophie is sometimes very stressful, she doesn’t talk to her Dad about how she feels, and I don’t have a release. I’ve had no support from doctors. When I worked, I would take all these issues to my job. You don’t realise when you’re supporting someone else, the impact it has on you. The thing I need most is to talk to someone. By telling my story I’ve realised that I need support too.

My advice for someone looking after someone close with MDD would be to just talk it all through and be prepared to hear things you might not like or expect. The best thing you can do is just be there, you don’t have to say a lot. Silence can be good, and listening is even better.

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Christina

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Christina, 28, is a writer from London. She was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) by her GP in 2012, whilst at university.

I was first diagnosed with MDD in 2012, during my second year of university. I had been struggling with the workload and felt very stressed. When one of my assignments was graded a zero it was as if something snapped inside my head, everything came tumbling down. I had worked so hard and suddenly felt like it had all been for nothing. My immediate thoughts were, ‘what would I say to my family and friends?’

The next morning, I woke up and struggled to leave my bed. I spent most of the day in my room, and then I couldn’t sleep at night. I felt catatonic, in a daze. I just couldn’t bear to go outside. I lost all pleasure from food and hardly ate a thing. I couldn’t believe I’d fallen down like this and didn’t really understand what was happening to me. I just wanted to hide, I felt awful. That’s when my GP diagnosed me with MDD.

One of my biggest worries was telling my family. I’m from a south Asian background and there’s very little discussion around mental health in my culture. It’s still taboo, particularly within my parents’ generation. My Mum was really supportive, but my Dad struggled to understand it at first. He thought I was just feeling sad and worried about what other people might think if they found out.

I kept thinking I shouldn’t burden my friends with something like this and that they have enough to deal with. I didn’t want to become one of those friends. But over time, I gradually opened up about my diagnosis and explained to them what I was going through. They were great and really open to listening.

In the end, I failed my second year because of my MDD, and had to re-sit the whole year. I remember that feeling at graduation, the sense that I’d finally made it and that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

My advice to anyone who’s struggling with feelings of hopelessness, sadness or losing interest in eating or seeing friends like I was, is to reach out and talk to someone. If not someone close like a friend or family member, then don’t hesitate to see your GP or call a mental health charity. The first conversation can be hard, but it could be the first step to recovery. 

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Jayne

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Jayne, 61, provides support to her daughter Sophie, who has major depressive disorder (MDD). Sophie currently lives at home with her parents.

In 2018 Sophie hit rock bottom. She was living away from home, on her own and was in a terrible way. We’d speak on the phone almost every day and I would ask her how she was feeling and coping. It was so distressing knowing how unwell she was and eventually I insisted that she come home to live with us. Finally, after many years and to everyone’s relief, her GP diagnosed her with MDD.

When Sophie is in the midst of a depressive period, I’m there to provide mental support and physical support – at times, literally helping her out of bed. We’ve always had a close relationship but when she hits those troughs, she needs me to be there, sometimes just a presence, sometimes to talk, but other times just to sit together, silently.

It was always Sophie’s dream to travel and at the end of 2019 she went travelling for six months. Sophie was on her own in New Zealand when the first pandemic restrictions were announced and had to lock down in a house with other travellers. We were so worried about her. She couldn’t leave the house at all and it took weeks for the government to repatriate her back to the UK. I remember when she arrived back home with her suitcase, it was a great relief but also heart-breaking – she’d given up her job and home to go travelling, so this was a huge blow and she spiralled into another depressive episode.

I can see in her face and her demeanour when things aren’t right. We cling together and share the ups and downs. You have to look for the positives; Sophie is living with us; we have a great relationship and are able to talk. Maybe we wouldn’t have that without her depression.

I consider myself good at self-preservation. Supporting Sophie is sometimes very stressful, she doesn’t talk to her Dad about how she feels, and I don’t have a release. I’ve had no support from doctors. When I worked, I would take all these issues to my job. You don’t realise when you’re supporting someone else, the impact it has on you. The thing I need most is to talk to someone. By telling my story I’ve realised that I need support too.

My advice for someone looking after someone close with MDD would be to just talk it all through and be prepared to hear things you might not like or expect. The best thing you can do is just be there, you don’t have to say a lot. Silence can be good, and listening is even better.

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About major depressive disorder

About major depressive disorder

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1 in 5

MDD affects nearly 1 in 5 people in the UK at some point in their lives.7

Find out more about MDD by downloading the infographic.


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1 in 5

MDD affects nearly 1 in 5 people in the UK at some point in their lives.7

Find out more about MDD by downloading the infographic.


button arrow Download

Start a conversation

If you are struggling with MDD or caring for someone with MDD, connecting with someone you trust can really help. You can send one of these virtual postcards to let them know you want to talk. Simply download a postcard to your device or share directly with someone you know via WhatsApp.

Supporting someone who has MDD can be far from easy. You may feel helpless, confused, and struggle to know what to say. By sharing a postcard, you will help to break the stigma around MDD and make it easier for someone affected to talk about how they are feeling and, if necessary, seek professional help.

If you are struggling with your mental health and finding it hard to open up to someone you trust about it, share one of these postcards to let them know you are ready to talk.  

Spread the word

By encouraging positive conversations around MDD, not only will we raise awareness, but we will encourage people to talk more openly about mental health, breaking down perceptions and encouraging people to explain how they feel.

Show your support in breaking the silence around MDD by sharing the posts in our social media toolkit or create your own using #BreakingDepressionUK.


Join the conversation #BreakingDepressionUK

Resources

The SANE Guide to MDD is for anyone affected by or caring for someone with MDD, a severe and debilitating condition, and one where help is available. If you wish to know more about the condition, this guide provides information about symptoms, diagnosis, assessment, and treatment options.

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