Self Stigma of Depression Scale (SSDS)

Usage: Please cite: Barney, L. J., Griffiths, K. M., Christensen, H., & Jorm, A. F. (2010). The Self‐Stigma of Depression Scale (SSDS): development and psychometric evaluation of a new instrument. International journal of methods in psychiatric research, 19(4), 243-254. doi: 10.1002/mpr.325

The Self-Stigma of Depression Scale is designed to assess the extent to which a person holds stigmatising attitudes towards themselves in relation to having depression. It is a 16 item scale with four subscales: Shame, Self-blame, Social inadequacy, and Help-seeking inhibition. Responses to the self-stigma items are measured on a five-point scale (ranging from one ‘strongly agree’ to five ‘strongly disagree’). Items are coded so that a higher score indicates greater self-stigma.

Self-Stigma of Depression Scale Items


  • I would feel ashamed.
  • I would feel embarrassed
  • I would feel inferior to other people.
  • I would feel disappointed in myself.


  • I would think I should be able to cope with things.
  • I would think I should be able to ‘pull myself together’.
  • I would think I should be stronger.
  • I would think I only had myself to blame.

Help-seeking inhibition

  • I would feel embarrassed about seeking professional help for depression.
  • I would feel embarrassed if others knew I was seeking professional help for depression.
  • I would see myself as weak if I took antidepressants.
  • I wouldn’t want people to know that I wasn’t coping.

Social inadequacy

  • I would feel I couldn’t contribute much socially.
  • I would feel inadequate around other people.
  • I would feel like I was good companya.
  • I would feel like a burden to other people.

a Reverse-scored item

Norms and psychometric properties

Internal consistency

SSDS total: α = 0.87

Shame Subscale: α = 0.83

Self-Blame Subscale: α = 0.78

Help-Seeking Inhibition Subscale: α = 0.79

Social Inadequacy Subscale: α = 0.79

Test-retest reliability

Intraclass correlations

SSDS total: p̂ 0.63, p < 0.001

Shame Subscale: p̂ 0.56, p < 0.001

Self-Blame Subscale: p̂ 0.54, p < 0.001

Help-Seeking Inhibition Subscale: p̂ 0.63, p < 0.001

Social Inadequacy Subscale: p̂ 0.49, p < 0.001


Mean score on the SSDS and subscales by severity level of depression.


No depression

Mild depression

Moderate to severe depression


57.76 59.04 61.05


14.63 15.02 15.61


14.95 15.14 15.47

Help-seeking inhibition

13.19 13.67 14.51

Social inadequacy

14.99 15.22 15.47

Note: These means were obtained from scores which were recoded so that higher scores indicated high self-stigma.

Based on a sample  of 1312 community members from New South Wales (randomly selected via the electoral roll) and a follow up of 151 of these people.

Key references

Barney, L.J., Griffiths, K.M., Christensen, H., & Jorm, A.F. (2010) The Self-Stigma of Depression Scale (SSDS): development and psychometric evaluation of a new instrument. International Journal of Methods In Psychiatric Research; 19: 243-254.