Internet Usage and Depression

After a recent article describing a study claiming a relationship between depression and internet usage, Dr. Pam Spurr related her observations of one of her patients.

The study found “the longer people spent on websites, the more unhappy they were.Those worst affected are both depressed and addicted, possibly because they are substituting the net for normal social activities.”

Look at the doctor’s observations:

So, when I saw the Daily Mail report last week on new research linking addictive internet use with depression, I wasn’t in the least bit surprised.

The study found that spending too long online can expose a ‘dark side’. Those who didn’t previously suffer from depression were made to feel gloomy and vulnerable, and those who did often logged off feeling worse.

Sadly, it confirmed a growing trend I’ve witnessed first-hand over the past ten years in my work as a life coach and agony aunt.

Because, in line with this research from the University of Leeds, I too have discovered that people slip into the murky realms of ‘chasing’ after a life – of sorts – by surfing the internet for longer and longer periods until it dominates their moods, behaviour and life.

There appears to be a direct relationship between spending more time online and feeling less happy about life, as well as an increased risk of addiction to the internet.

Let’s be honest, though, when most of us think of the stereotypical sad and lonely person who gets addicted to surfing the net, we think of a geeky man who probably doesn’t have refined social skills or a high ‘desirability’ rating…

It soon became obvious to me that [Anna, my patient] was spending too much time on the internet. She confessed that the more time she spent on social networking sites, the stronger her desire grew to keep up with how everyone else was spending their time.

With complete honesty, she said it seemed a darned sight more interesting and fun than what she was up to.

The irony was that she wasn’t contacting these people but, instead, compulsively following them. Anna said she hadn’t wanted go out with friends because she feared she’d bore them by droning on about her break-up.

Unfortunately, by isolating herself, she compounded the root of the problem, further damaging her fragile self-confidence.

The further irony is that you can never trust the way people depict their social lives on such sites.
Yet someone vulnerable like Anna will fall for it hook, line, and sinker.

 I’m glad you are reading this on the internet and not me.


One thought on “Internet Usage and Depression

  1. jo says:

    reminds me of the story about the natives who quit showing up for work after they were paid…..Until the employers starting giving them magazines. You should write about that too. Good stuff. I heartily agree. now off to some more normal social activity for me. Painting my toes perhaps.

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