Is Facebook the New Alternative to Traditional Therapy?

Jun 13, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Christine F. Anderson

by Christine F. Anderson

Christine shares with KRL mental health/mental illness articles now and then in her column-Forever Different.


Christine Anderson

For better or worse, whether you are “on” it or not, there’s no escaping Facebook. And while there are plenty of good reasons to use it, there are also some interesting themes arising that speak to the organic process of human experience. So, for all its pros and cons, let’s not overlook Facebook’s ability to work therapeutic wonders. It really is a fascinating study in human nature.

The top five therapeutic effects are:

1. A case for healing. We write to dead people.
2. A shot of self-esteem. Merely post or change a picture of yourself and you will no doubt be inundated with people telling you how hot, beautiful, gorgeous, and young you look.
3. A way to purge. Why, you can unload on the last person who made you mad, do it in the third person for all to see, and then erase it as if it never happened. Talk about psychologically cleansing!
4. An opportunity to connect. People can reach down and pull up their deepest, most intimate thoughts and share them with several hundred or thousand people. And they do!
5. A moment of closure. It’s as simple as going to “relationship status” on your profile and clicking “single.” There. Done. Now, doesn’t that feel better?

Besides the above, there are Facebook groups you can join: anything from hobby-related to a group such as the one I run, a peer support group for people with mental illness.

I have found in my time running this group that people are more comfortable coming to their peers in a safe non-judgmental setting than spending $100 an hour to sit in a stuffy office speaking to a therapist who seems uninterested.

On the other hand, I’ve come to find out that Facebook has passed the novelty stage and seems to have become a necessity for some. Has that created yet another digital addiction? Experts say yes, and have even coined the phrase Facebook Depression.

Facebook Depression is a condition that can affect children, teens, and even adults who obsess over the social media site. It has yet to be determined whether Facebook Depression is an extension of the clinical depression that many of these same individuals would experience anyway, or a unique condition that’s only apparent when they use the popular site.

Depression of a clinical nature does not come and go based on high-tech success or popularity. Clinical depression often remains with a person for his or her entire life. However, new studies of adolescents are beginning to show that extensive time spent using Facebook may lead to, and amplify, depression.

Facebook can be a particularly challenging social environment to navigate for people already coping with poor self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. Facebook pages can lead some individuals to feel worse than they already do, and can cause anxiety if they think they don’t measure up. If they see the number of “friends” someone else has, status changes, and happy-go-lucky photos, this can have a devastating impact on an individual’s self-worth, especially if it’s already fragile. Facebook provides a skewed view of what’s really going on in the world, and this can lead to the development of a comparison-based identity. Facebook Depression sets in when the individual develops a belief that other people are living lives that are better, happier, and more fulfilling than their own, and that other people are more socially acceptable and desirable.

Is everything eventually bad for you? Only time and progress will tell.

Check out KRL’s Mental Health section for more mental health related articles, and watch for more from Christine.

Christine F. Anderson is CEO at Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media and is author of Forever Different: A Memoir of One Woman’s Journey Living with Bipolar Disorder. She currently is an Ambassador and sits on the marketing committee for the International Bipolar Foundation and in her spare time she does animal rescue and is writing her second book.


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