If you often feel anxious and tend to worry about one thing after another, we’ve got good news. Recent studies suggest the Internet can be a useful tool for those combating anxiety and depression. Now, instead of feeling guilty for the time you spend in cyberspace, you can feel reassured there are actually benefits that come with some of you online activities.
Benefits for Seniors and Teens
Recent research has discovered that seniors in particular can benefit from going online. The series of studies, conducted between 2002 and 2008, found that “16 percent of people who didn’t use the Internet reported suffering from depression, while only nine percent of those who did stated the same.”
For isolated populations, like seniors, being able to reach out and connect with other people without having to drive or even leave the house, is a godsend.
Another group found to benefit from time spent online is teenagers. Research conducted by a team at the University of Sydney showed that adolescents benefit more from anxiety and depression treatment that is a combination of online self-help tools and in-person counselling.
How the Internet Can Help
Before you quit your current anti-anxiety regimen and jump therapeutically online, it’s important to understand exactly how your time online may help you fight your anxious ways.
1. Access to Support Regardless of Mobility
One of the biggest ways the Internet makes a positive impact on anxiety and depression is by offering an easily accessible way for people with mobility challenges to interact with the world. For those who have trouble getting around, can’t drive, or live far from friends and family, the Internet provides a chance to stay in touch and even cultivate new relationships that would be impossible otherwise.
2. Online Support Groups
If you’re facing a specific challenge, it’s likely there’s an online support group full of others who understand what you’re going through. Online support groups are a great resource for people to share struggles, receive encouragement, and offer support to others. In a world where it’s so easy to feel alone, an online support group can provide community and comfort.
You can find groups through forums specifically designed to be a safe place for people suffering from anxiety, depression, or even physical maladies. Look for discussions and groups that focus on the positive and celebrate the successes of the members.
3. Social Networks
Facebook isn’t just for bragging about your grand-kids or keeping up with high school classmates. It can also be a great place to find support and encouragement when you’re feeling down. Although some have reported feeling worse about their life after looking at all the awesome things happening in other people’s lives, social networks, like Facebook or Twitter, are also known for garnering huge, positive responses to people in need.
In fact, there’s a new social network underway that will cater to people fighting depression and anxiety. The site will give users a way to work through their issues using cognitive behavioral therapy principles to help turn negative patterns of thinking into more productive ways of viewing the world.
4. There’s an App for That
Believe it or not, there are several apps that target anxiety and depression—and the best part is you can use them on the go. Worry Watch is an app that helps you manage anxiety through journaling. Users write down their worries and then review them later to see what the actual outcome was. The practice helps put worries in perspective and minimize their frequency.
Other than the cost, one of the biggest reasons people don’t seek help for anxiety and depression is because they are embarrassed. It’s hard to admit we need help and even harder to ask for it. Online tools and resources that offer self-assessments, self-help tools, and therapeutic exercises can be a less intimidating way to get the help you need. For people who feel uncomfortable reaching out in person, the more anonymous online setting can be the perfect way to find help.
It’s nice to know there are new unexpected ways to deal with bouts of anxious feelings—in addition to any doctor prescribed medications, of course. And the ease, accessibility, and 24/7 availability of online help is a great way to stop worrying and start enjoying more of your life.
Featured photo credit: Rob via flickr.com