Charting the Depths

Reflections on the science of depression.

The Come Out of the Dark Campaign: The Next Phase

An instruction manual to crush depression stigma

Depression remains in the dark, a taboo subject that’s difficult to talk about openly. The stigma of depression is hugely isolating for the sufferer and the caregiver. In my last post, I introduced the Come Out of the Dark Campaign, a grassroots campaign of people committed to

A Proud COTD supporter

creating an honest national conversation about depression. The thousands who have joined this movement believe that people who have been affected by depression are entitled to love and respect; we reject the false idea that depressed people are irremediably defective.

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 We are using social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to start a humane adult dialogue about depression. We desperately need this conversation not only for adults. We also desperately need it for our children. Our youth are facing depression in high schools and on college campuses in epidemic proportions that will overwhelm them, their parents, and all counseling resources. As a society, we cannot afford to sweep depression under the rug any longer.

One of our tools to fight depression stigma are glow-in-the-dark wristbands that are printed with the phrase COME OUT OF THE DARK.  Whether you’ve suffered from depression or support else someone who has, wearing a COME OUT OF THE DARK wristband sends an important message of love and acceptance.

If you visit our gallery of COTD supporters, I think you can more easily understand why our campaign has taken off, and how it has the potential to shift the conversation about depression on more favorable terms.

Part of why the COTD campaign appeals is the slogan, which has several meanings

•   Let’s end society’s ignorance about depression.

•   Let’s support depressed people so they get well and stay well.

•   Let’s create an environment where people can speak freely about depression and no one feels compelled to conceal their pain.

While I’m very pleased by what we’ve accomplished so far in COTD, its next phase is more revolutionary—the goal is to attack stigma with the flair and unpredictability of a guerilla campaign.

What’s next?

In this next phase,  we build a more open and honest conversation from the ground up. You will help to build an army of people committed to breaking down stigma. In this next phase, you take the message of Come Out of the Dark directly to our towns and cities—to our schools, churches, hospitals, and community centers.  How exactly? Read on, for I provide exact step-by-step instructions for how to order the wristbands in bulk and advice about how to become an effective envoy of COTD. In the end, the only limit is your energy and creativity!

How exactly do I order the wristbands?

go to -

click on place order

choose 1/2inch band model
choose color filled band style
choose glow-in-the-dark band type
choose green color (order 100 or more; I always order adult bands which work for most everyone)
choose text color black
type COME OUT OF THE DARK  for the front message
type READ THE DEPTHS for the inside message
choose font arial_bold

(choose the shipping options that work for you)

Can I participate if live outside the US?

Yes! We badly want people in other countries to share in the joy of Come Out of the Dark! This conversation about depression should be international!!!! ships worldwide.

How can I afford it? has a minimum order of 200 for $87 (including shipping). While I distribute the wristbands for free, I do not expect that everyone else can do this.  I do not want financial strain to prevent anyone from doing this good work. Please feel free to charge $1 a band so you can break even, or even come out ahead.  You might also consider splitting up the order with friends or co-workers.

Who might want a wristband?

Many, many people, based on my experience. I’ve received requests from parents for their depressed children. From people who lost loved ones to suicides. From teachers for their classrooms. From therapists for their patients. From counselors for their support groups. From student council groups. And of course from many individuals who have been touched personally by depression, either in themselves or in close friend or family member. I’ll leave it to your ingenuity to find who to uplift with a COTD wristband. Trust me, it feels good.

How can I make my actions count on social media?

This revolution will continue to be spread by social media. I suggest

The more people that model that it is okay to talk about depression in our social networks, the more we will draw depression out of the shadows.

What if I want to hold a COTD event at a school, community center, or mental health facility?

Great! I am happy to help you. Please contact me at and we can arrange for me to participate via phone or Skype!

Still have questions about how to get involved?

 Please write me at

Want a wristband for yourself?

Sign up here (free wristbands for the next 1,000 people to sign up, US addresses).

A Happy COTD supporter

Jonathan Rottenberg is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida, where he directs the Mood and Emotion Laboratory.


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