From knowledge to hope: Online depression communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

The cybernetic revolution changed the way individuals suffering from depression look for and receive help. Many have begun turning towards online communities for help in understanding and dealing with symptoms. This article aims to examine the contents and characteristics of the discussions on depression in dedicated online communities and to explore the potential benefi ts these communities offer people with depression. For that purpose, quantitative content analysis of a full year ' s data from 25 leading online communities was performed, using a novel computerized system, the Forum Monitoring System. The overall database included 149,216 messages. Results indicated that there was an increase in the daily activity level during the winter. Content analysis identifi ed nine main subjects discussed in the communities, including (in descending order) ' symptoms ' , ' relationships ' , ' coping ' , ' life ' , ' formal care ' , ' medications ' , ' causes ' , ' suicide ' , and ' work ' . The overall tone was rather balanced. Findings indicated that online depression communities serve as a sphere for knowledge exchange, sharing the experience of living with depression, and getting inspiration for coping. Involvement in these communities seems to inspire and empower participants by enhancing better understanding of their condition and by encouraging them to fi ght depression. Therefore, it is suggested that the communities can complement formal care. Participating in these communities could be regarded as a coping technique, and more fragile depressed people should be encouraged to visit them and participate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2012

Keywords

  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Content analysis
  • Depression
  • Support groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Sensory Systems
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Speech and Hearing

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