Depression is growing in our society

When low mood or depression occurs it’s natural to look for a cause. However reasons for depression still challenge doctors. Therefore although some believe doctors believe its caused by physical changes in the brain, others argue the depression is itself the cause of these changes.

Dark clouds showing how depression may feel

Storm clouds may reflect mood

Clearly it’s not the same for everyone, and for some there may never be a clear answer, however some suggestions of causes are:

  • Drugs – illegal or legal
  • Childhood events, for example abuse or bulling
  • Poor lifestyle , for instance diet, exercise and sleep pattern

That said, its important to consider the impact that social media and the internet in general has on depression.

We know that excessive internet use is linked with depression, however, which comes first? Is it the internet causing depression or are depressed people drawn to the internet.

I found this  leaflet  very helpful in understanding depression.

dark profile of isolated person

Isolation

The internet has the unique ability to connect any person to any other based on certain criteria. This can include relationships, beliefs, viewpoints, goals, problems, identity, or interests. 24 hours a day it’s there. Someone is there.

But what happens if someone is already feeling depressed or experiencing low mood? Do they only connect to others with low mood?

If you feel low, you may withdraw from day-to-day activities. You may feel little motivation. You may have little interest in doing things or seeing you closest friends. Therefore you may turn to social media. But does that make you feel more isolated? Although face-to-face conversation and connections have been strongly linked with wellbeing, it is not so clear what happens when they interactions take place virtually (online).

Self Harm

Self harm can be difficult to understand for the person carrying out the self harm as well as for people close to them.

Most people have thoughts about what self-harm is, but did you ever consider smoking or drug use to be self-harm?

Reasons young people give for their self-harm include:

  • Emotional pressure becoming too high and it acts as a safety valve.
  • Cutting releases the pressure.
  • Pain can make you feel more alive when feeling numb or dead inside.
  • Punishing yourself in response to feelings of shame or guilt.
  • When it’s too difficult to talk to anyone, self harm lets others know there is a problem.
  • Self-harm gives a sense of control that’s missing elsewhere in life.

Images and content can be trigger for self harm. Harmful sites are found throughout the internet. These sites are impossible to regulate, and their content is designed to harm.  Its impossible to understand why anyone would want to create sites that intend to harm others, however they often promote self-harm and even suicide.

If you see any of the profiles or inappropriate content there are websites that allow you to report them.

Look after yourself

Sleep: Getting enough sleep can make all the difference. Good quality sleep is key.  coping with sleep problems can help

Food: A balanced diet can help you feel more energetic and feel healthy. see food and mood for more tips

Exercise: Exercise can be a challenge but walking or swimming can help lift your mood. physical activity gives more detail.

A key part to feeling better is to understand what makes you happy. Try different things, and learn what improves your mood. If possible try to make some time for yourself each day.

Do you find that a bath is relaxing? Does it cheer you up to take a dog for a walk? Maybe watching a comedy on Netflix will lift your mood? Small changes can make a big difference.

Awareness of depression at Universities

Most universities and colleges now offer free drop-in counselling services. However, with the increasing awareness of depression and other mental health issues, this means that universities and colleges have been under pressure to improve their mental health support network.

Therefore, universities and colleges offer other services, including: mental health advisors, student led services, online help and the disabled students allowance (DSA) scheme.

Universities may also provide reasonable adjustments or mitigated circumstances.  For example, extra time in exams, extensions on coursework, specialist mental health advisor and other extra support.

Support!

I have discussed some negatives of the internet for depression. However its not all bad. There are many charity website that offer help and support to sufferers.

MIND is one such charity. 

When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information – about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues – is vital.

In addition there are many apps developed specifically to help those with depression and other Mental Health conditions. Talklife and Moodkit are just a sample, but there is detail on the highest rated of these apps here.

My website also covers a list of organisation that may be able to help.