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Breaking Depression

The Breaking Depression campaign aims to tackle misconceptions and stigma surrounding major depressive disorder (MDD) and ultimately “break” depression.

  • Almost nine out of 10 people living with MDD hide the effects of their depression from others.1
  • Nearly a third of UK adults said they would not be very comfortable talking about mental health with someone who has MDD, because they wouldn’t know how to provide support.2
  • MDD is a serious and debilitating form of depression, affecting more than two million people in the UK.3,4

A survey shows that almost three-quarters (73%) of people with MDD try to keep their depression a secret. The survey of 202 patients and carers was commissioned as part of Breaking Depression, developed as a partnership between SANE and Janssen, a Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson.


Breaking Depression aims to help break the silence and equip people to start a conversation about the condition, either with a friend, family member or healthcare professional.

Many people with MDD try to hide their condition because they feel ashamed and worry about how others close to them will react, but the first conversation can be an important step towards getting help.

Findings from a separate survey of the general public, commissioned on behalf of Janssen, revealed that only 39% have heard of major depressive disorder.2

“Anyone who has ever witnessed MDD will know it is the most lonely and tormenting condition that can leave people trapped in the four walls of their own thoughts and fears, often unable to leave their homes.

“The cruelty of the illness is that many who suffer from it are resistant to existing medications and therapies and all too often suffer in silence. They have become the ‘forgotten people’ in the mental health system.”

Marjorie Wallace CBE, Chief Executive of SANE

The results showed that 73% of UK adults wouldn’t feel very comfortable talking to someone with MDD about their mental health – and almost a third of those said they wouldn’t know how to provide support and 41% said they would feel worried about upsetting them.2

Marjorie adds: “We hope that by taking a fresh look at this debilitating condition and its impact on people’s lives, we can bring about greater understanding, prioritised research and more effective treatments.” 


Breaking Depression also explores the journey of living with MDD told through the visual Japanese art of kintsugi – a technique to mend broken pottery pieces using adhesive mixed with powdered gold to highlight the flaws and imperfections as part of the design.

Even though the repair process is complex, by taking each broken piece one at a time, we can recognise the beauty and uniqueness of each person’s journey and support the path to recovery.

For more information please visit

1. Major Depressive Disorder: Patient & Carer Research conducted by Synergy Health Research on behalf of Janssen and SANE, August-September 2019.

2. Perceptions of Depression: Omnibus survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Janssen, October 2020.

3. McManus S, et al. (2016) Mental Health and Wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Available at (PDF, 5.7MB)

4. Office for National Statistics (2018) Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: mid-2017. Available at

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