Discussion Board Help
Researchers have begun to look at whether visiting a mood disorders discussion forum really does help people understand and manage their condition. They are finding some interesting results.
How do people benefit?
People who use discussion forums reported that the Internet provided:
- Social support that helped them to feel less alone and isolated
- Discussion helped them recognize, understand and cope better with their condition
- It also helps people deal with the stigma of having a mental illnes
In fact many people found it easier to talk on-line about their condition. For some people it is only here that they shared their experience of depression. Not with family and friends who they worried would not understand.
The downside may be misinterpreting what others say or receiving misinformation.
In a British study of 2037 discussion forum users, researchers found that almost half of the users had a major depressive disorder that was not being treated. These people have not seen a health professional in the last year. Ouch! Good news!
However, the good news is over one in three repeat users did choose to seek professional help. And they reported that the discussion board helped them to make that decision!
Cross-sectional survey of users of Internet depression communities
John Powell1, Noel McCarthy2 and Gunther Eysenbach3
BMC Psychiatry 2003, 3:19