Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a mood and mental disorder affecting the brain; it is caused by the reduction of three monoamine neurotransmitters: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine (Rot, M. A., Mathew, S. J., & Charney, D. S. 2009). MDD is one of the world’s most common mental disorders, affecting a predicted 4% of the world’s population and roughly 16.1 million adults in United States alone (Major Depression. 2019; Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. 2018). The concentrations of these neurotransmitters are reduced in the brains of people with MDD due to their increased reabsorption from synapses in the brain back into presynaptic neurons (Ruhé, H. G., Mason, N. S., & Schene, A. H. 2007). In attempt to regulate the concentrations of these neurotransmitters in people with MDD, medications like SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs, and MAOIs can be prescribed (Yeragani, V., Ramachandraih, C., Subramanyam, N., Bar, K., & Baker, G. 2011). In addition to neurochemical changes, neuroanatomical changes have also been reported in people with MDD (Treadway, M. T., & Pizzagalli, D. A. 2014).
In recent years, depressive disorders have captured brief media attention due to celebrities sharing their experiences with MDD, as well as celebrities dying by suicide. Although depressive disorders are more frequently being acknowledged and discussed in a public spotlight, there remains a stigma surrounding mental illness including MDD. This partially stems from a lack of public understanding that mental disorders are, indeed, illnesses. Societal pressures may prevent people suffering from mental illnesses from accepting that they have a disorder, seeking help from medical professionals, and not being ashamed of their disorder (Corrigan, P. W., Druss, B. G., & Perlick, D. A. 2014). Furthermore, individuals that have sought help often talk to a physician or psychiatrist about their diagnosis, but they may struggle to understand the information presented to them. The purpose of this project was to create several illustrations and an animation that would strengthen public and patient education and understanding of MDD in attempt to help break some of the stigma that surrounds this mental illness.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Depression, Mental--Interactive multimedia--Design; Depression, Mental--Treatment--Interactive multimedia--Design
Department, Program, or Center
Medical Illustration (CHST)
Cox, Joanna, "Breaking the Stigma: Major Depressive Disorder" (2019). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus