June 9, 2020
This article explores the relationship between depression—one of the most common mental health problems in our societies—and political predispositions. Drawing on cross-disciplinary research from psychology, psychiatry, and political science, the article uses data from Understanding Society and the European Social Survey to test this relationship with party identification, vote intentions and left–right orientation, and two different measures of self-rated clinical depression and depressive symptoms. Empirical analyses find a modest but significant, common tendency: individuals vulnerable to depression are less likely to identify with mainstream conservative parties, to vote for them, and to place themselves on the right side of the political spectrum (a “bias against the right”). No clear evidence is found that they also identify less with political parties. These findings contribute to our understanding of differences in political predispositions and raise important implications for political engagement.