MIND

Should you seek support for depression on social media?

Maria Gaian, Magickal Mental Wellness Mentor

Are you seeking support for depression on social media?

When you’re suffering from depression, you feel alone and in need of support.

Depression is isolating and you can feel like no one understands. 

 

You have questions: –

 

Do other people feel like you do?

Are you really as broken as you think you are?

Is there hope that you can recover from depression and feel ‘normal’ again?

How do you feel better? Should you take medication? Go to talk therapy? 

What do other people do when they feel depressed? 

 

So you fire up your phone and start searching the internet for answers.

 

You set up an X/Twitter account after seeing so many ‘mental health advocates’ out there.

Maybe, if you’re really brave, you join some Facebook support groups.

Some really nice people reach out to you. They seem to know and understand your pain and you feel relieved.

You’ve found your people! 

 

But should you seek support for depression on social media? 

When it goes well, social media can be positive. There are genuinely decent people online. Some of them are suffering the same issues you struggle with.

They’ll happily support you and tell you how they cope on a daily basis and you can support them in return.

Social media support from strangers can save lives.

I’ve witnessed so many moments when someone confessed to wanting to harm themselves and they’ve been convinced to get help because social media users took the time to reach out. 

 

People raise awareness of mental health issues and support each other through the darkest times on social media.

 

Some really solid friendships form and that’s amazing.

This is the positive side of social media.

Just make sure you do your homework before you jump in with both feet. 

The last thing you need when you’re depressed is to get involved in anything that makes you feel worse. 

When I was feeling at my worst, I joined a few support groups on Facebook.

 

It wasn’t as helpful as I’d have liked. Some were run by people who were struggling themselves and weren’t in the right headspace to offer support to others.

There was one group that made me feel even worse than I already did! It was a big group, packed with people telling their traumatic stories. I couldn’t cope with it. Being an empath, I sucked all that sadness and pain right into my Soul and I had to back away.

 

The strangest one I joined wouldn’t allow anyone to recommend anything that had been helpful to them.

 

No useful books, therapies, lifestyle changes – nothing. They said they weren’t willing to take responsibility for anyone recommending ‘wrong advice’.

But what is wrong for one group of people, may be just what someone else needs to help them recover. 

These groups had one thing in common for those seeking support for depression on social media.

They didn’t actually offer much support at all.

 

My advice is to seek out groups that are run by mental wellness specialists who can actually offer good support and nurture an atmosphere of hope and positivity.

 

should you look for support on social media?

Remember that people aren’t always who they appear to be online.

 

Just because someone gives you what appears to be a genuine story, doesn’t mean it’s true.

There are people who get off on telling you a story, hoping that you’ll give them your story in return.

I’ve also heard of people ‘stealing’ stories in order to catfish others.

 

Don’t tell your story to anyone…..

 

….especially if you have a history of abuse. There are nasty people out there who target survivors. 

A so called ‘mental health advocate’ and charity fundraiser allegedly coaxed women that were survivors of sexual abuse and rape into telling him their stories.

He was supportive at first, but then things took a dark turn and he began a campaign of sexual harassment, knowing that the women he targeted were vulnerable.

This predator started sending naked pics of himself to these women out of the blue. He seemed to get off on shocking these women. 

I’m sure you can imagine the trauma that this guy caused with his abusive behaviour.

I wish I could say that this is a one off event, but looking for support for depression on social media can be very risky.

 

Are the people you’re telling your story to on social media really who they say they are?

Of course, you’re careful.

 

You’re not stupid. You know that people on the internet aren’t always who they say they are, but these folks are just like you.

Aren’t they?

They share things with you that seem personal. And they make you feel like you could trust them enough to share your feelings with them.

They say they’re a mental health advocate and they raise awareness of mental health issues.

They’re good people. They must be, right?

Getting support on social media is risky

But what if they aren’t good people? 

 

What if you find the things you confide to your new ‘friend’ being posted all over the internet? 

You could suddenly see people judging and taking the mickey out of your deepest, darkest confessions.

What about if a gang of haters start telling you to die or say that you deserve horrible things to happen to you? 

Or you find that you’re targeted by a predator, who only wants to hear your story so they can exploit your pain. 

People online are shamed for body issues, eating disorders, their abusive past, or it’s  suggested that they’re an attention seeker, or even a faker……….. 

 

Can you cope with that?

Social media is like the Wild West.

 

No-one is really policing it, stopping predators and toxic undesirables using the platforms to harm others.

Social media isn’t quick to deal with bullies, baiters, abusers and manipulators. It’s never been easier for nasty folks to find fresh victims.

Block them and they’ll make new accounts and start again with the bad behaviour.

Adults (shamefully middle aged women can be the worst offenders) are bullying, shaming and abusing other adults and we suffer in silence. No-one wants to listen, no-one takes it seriously and it feels like no-one cares.   

 

It’s exhausting and traumatizing.

 

I know, because I’ve been on the receiving end of it.

It almost drove me to end my life, it was so bad.

Adult victims of bullying, harassment and catfishing are expected by the police, platforms and politicians to be able to be mentally strong enough to cope with it.

‘Just turn it off’, they say. But that doesn’t stop the perpetrators continuing to try to hurt you. 

 

Some folks can shrug off these shenanigans, (lucky them!) but most of us are deeply affected by it.

 

And if you’ve been battered by life so much that you have little self esteem and confidence in the first place, it’s even worse.

Any trust in people we do have, crumbles away when we’re targeted by these toxic people.

When we find we aren’t strong enough to deal with it, it only adds to our feelings of powerlessness and shame.

 

And that’s when social media becomes dangerous to us.

 

Should you keep using social media, especially when you know you’re vulnerable?

When we’re depressed, we’re fragile. Things deeply affect our mindset.

Tales of war, hatred, misogyny, murder, abuse, appeals from animal rescue centers and charities, the state of the planet, poverty, inequality and the ridiculous frenzy every election year, send us into a downward spiral. 

It gets harder and harder to find the positive things to lift our spirits. 

Because of this, I stopped actively using Facebook and Twitter/X and honestly, I don’t miss them one bit. 

I’d encourage you to get off them, too. 

 

Do you need to use social media?

 

Many of us use social media to keep in touch with friends and family, but do we need to? 

Letters, email, texts and the phone stil exist and are actually more effective ways to connect with our loved ones.

I never share pics of my family on social media cos I don’t know who’s seeing, or even saving,  them. Photos of my children were circulated by bullies on social media and that to me is unacceptable.

 

I send pictures of my family via email to the ONLY people I want to see them.

 

The world does not need to know about my family. I’m always a bit non plussed by how many parents share details of their kids lives on social media as if it’s nothing. But that’s another story.  

It’s not just about online safety, though.

You might discover that your feelings of depression actually began when you started using social media!

I talk about how social media contributes to, and can even cause depression in this post:

Why I Don’t Have a Support Group on Facebook

How does social media make you feel?  

My challenge to you:

Grab a journal and log into your favourite social media account.

Start paying attention to how you feel from the second you log in.

How do you feel? What are you looking for? Likes? Shares? Your favourite people for a chat? Cat videos?

Are you seeing exactly what you want to see, or are you getting a load of information that normally you’d never read?

Notice how you feel? Inspired? Uplifted? Educated? If yes, great!

Or are you feeling grumpy, negative, sad, triggered?

My next question is:

 

Do your interactions on social media make you feel validated? Listened to? Seen?

Do you feel liked and loved by the people you interact with?

Or do you feel rejected or deflated cos no-one paid attention to your posts, or said horrible things?

I need you to be honest with yourself now.

 

Even if you feel seen and heard by people on social media, you have to be careful.

 

Attaching your self esteem and value to likes or shares on social media is dangerous.

Did you know that social media is designed to make you addicted? They aim to get you addicted to the dopamine hit you get when someone likes or shares your posts. 

Again I talk about this in the post: Why I don’t have a Facebook support group

Don’t fall for it! You need to feel good about yourself in other ways. 

 

How does social media make you feel?

What are the alternatives?

You might have guessed by now how I feel about seeking support for depression on social media by now!

And I’m not alone. People are leaving social media platforms in droves.

There are better places to get support than social media, including ‘in person’ support groups offering all sorts of therapeutic activities.

 

Groups all over the world offer ecotherapy, mindfulness, animal assisted therapy, creativity sessions and more.

 

I know it might feel scary. You’re depressed, probably socially anxious, so not feeling at all like going out and meeting strangers.

Social media can seem like the easy answer, allowing us to get help whist staying hidden away in our comfort zone.

If you’re not ready to mix and mingle, and for now you’d rather stick with online support, find something off of social media.

There are loads of alternatives. Just let Google search for some for you.

 

If online support is truly all you can manage, I have something for you.

 

I’ve created a space online called the Ditch the Black Dog Sacred Circle.

It’s a community coaching and therapy space where you can get practical advice, support, energy healing and uplifting rituals and ceremonies to help you improve your mental health and wellness.

It’s not on Facebook! I use a tool called ClarityFlow to offer a peaceful oasis of calm where bullying and catfishing aren’t tolerated.

I’m here to support you, to hold a sacred, safe space online for you to heal your heart, mind and soul.

Want to join?  Click the button to find out more about it and see if it’s for you.

 

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About the Author

Maria Gaian

Maria Gaian is a magickal mental wellness mentor specialising in depression recovery.

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