Why does the Internet cause depression and how to avoid it?
Nowadays the Internet has substituted a great many of activities that were used to be done outside the home and those requiring face-to-face interaction. The world is changing and it won’t be the same again. Have you ever found yourself surfing within the boundlessness of the Internet for so long until it determines your mood and behavior? That’s because there is a direct correlation between time online, satisfaction with life, and internet addiction. We are so quickly hooked on virtual life that sometimes even don’t notice that. And the more time we spend online, the more chance we sink into internet depression.
Why does depression appear?
There are several factors that might become a starting point for mental health problems.
Information overload. In the last decades, the Internet has become one of the most powerful force on the mankind. It gives us ultimate information access from any place in the world. But, at the same time, this availability creates digital information overload which our mind sometimes can’t cope with. This might lead to internet-related depression.
“Popcorn brain”. When our brain is exposed to information overflow, we actually become accustomed to the sea of data. This is why life outside information might seem boring and offline life loses its appeal. But we aren’t only hooked on the amount of information we get but also on its diversity. Our mind gets addicted to things that are new as new stuff stimulates dopamine production making you happier. If the overload is constant, you become stressed out while you can’t fill the need to obtain new information.
Excessive internet usage. British psychologists concluded there’s a strong correlation between redundant use of the internet and depression. The researchers surveyed how much time young people and adults spend on the web as well as what content they consume. The study didn’t come to a conclusion what comes first – either depressed people are attracted to the Internet or the Internet set off the depression. Apparently, what can be concluded for sure is that websites aiming to replace real socialization with a virtual one are related to mental health disorders. An alternative study argues that young people who basically don’t have any psychological disorders but overuse the Internet are likely to gradually sink into depression. More often than not youth who use the Internet pathologically browse entertainment websites rather than informational content.
Comparing yourself to people on social media. If you constantly follow your Facebook friends’ pictures, you might feel jealous or even depressed. People forget that users tend to exaggerate their real life on social networks. In this case “social comparison” comes into effect and your peer’s boastal post can cause depressive symptoms. We just forget that everybody has its own ups and downs while there is strong tendency to expose only happy moments and accomplishments in public.
How to recognize internet depression?
Those who spend hours online sometimes even don’t realize the impact of low social interaction hence depression symptoms may huddle up noteless.If you suspect yourself or your child having depression, check the signs (summarized by the National Institute of Mental Health) that might help to identify the mental disorder.
- issues with concentration and decision making
- tiredness and lack of energy
- guilt feeling, uselessness, and pessimism
- insomnia or oversleeping
- soreness or agitation
- loss of interest in favorite activities
- overeating or loss of appetite
- constant headaches, spasm, and digestive issues
- suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
If you’ve discovered at least a couple from the list, consider taking measures below.
What to do?
Depression won’t self-destruct but it is treatable. If you use the Internet excessively and you have any of the mentioned above signs, first what you should do is to decrease the amount of time spent online and get back to the real world. As soon as you enhance social intercourse, depression symptoms, apparently, will go away.
If things aren’t too serious, a nice solution would be to find support in your family and friends. Try to substitute online chatting with real conversations. You might ask your friend around for lunch or go together to the movies. Get distracted by the computer, don’t be afraid to talk about your problems and the problem might be gradually resolved.
In more serious cases depression might require specialized treatment with the aid of a therapist or a local treatment center. The therapy usually requires taking anti-depressants in order to remove the symptoms and normalize the state of mind. In addition, the treatment can help coping with Internet addiction and other related problems.
How to protect yourself from the mental disorder?
As you know, it’s always easier to prevent the disease rather than to cure it. With the case of the World Wide Web, it’s not really possible to abandon internet as it’s become a part of our everyday life. What is more important is to find a balance between the online world and the real one.
Spend more time with your nearest and dearest. Try to keep in touch with your family and friends not only on Facebook and Skype. Organize a family trip or just go to the nearest park. Plan evenings of board games in a family circle. Go to a movie or to a cafe with a friend but try to avoid places with free wi-fi.
Discover new hobby. The world is full of interesting occupations to do outside the Web. Find something you enjoy and what will involve you both emotionally and physically. Why not travel somewhere and go for a hike, engage in football, or start cooking. Being involved in fun activities will brighten your life and give no chance to depression.
Use parental control app. A useful solution to prevent internet addiction causing depression is to consider a software application to be installed on your and your child’s devices. With its help, you’ll be able to block depressive content and limit screen time in general. That might help to keep away from dangerous results of excessive internet usage.
Stay positive. When you talk to people either online or in actual life, try to stick to positive people. Do not involve in pessimistic conversations or replying negative comments. And don’t forget that life is full of wonders outside the web. So get the most out of your life and don’t give internet depression a chance.