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Are you feeling depressed? Feel like your friends or family may not understand your depression? Forums can be helpful in answering questions about depression. Depression forums are often used by people who are depressed, experts on depression, or curious about depression.
When it’s the middle of the night and you can’t sleep and you need someone to talk to without waking someone who’s asleep, you might find a kindred spirit on a depression forum. This article gives an overview of depression forums: what they are, what their possible uses are, and things you should check before you join one.
What is a Depression Forum?
A depression forum is an online community dedicated to depression in general or to a specific, designated subset of depression, for example, postpartum depression or seasonal affective disorder SAD. In this community, users presumably share a somewhat common experience and the idea is that they may be able to offer each other especially helpful understanding and suggestions. In addition, a depression forum may sometimes form a subset on a site with a broader overall aim, like mental health, for example.
A depression forum may be primarily a peer-to-peer social network, a way to serve advertising, or both. Before you join a depression forum, you may want to look around and determine how it is making money. Is there a corporate sponsor? Is some particular treatment, remedy, or medication being advertised on the site?
Who Is On Depression Forums?
The kind of people you will find on depression forums varies. Basically, depression forums can be divided into two types when speaking about posters. One type of depression forum has posters who include only people who have chosen to come and post because they are suffering from or interested in depression. These people may be particularly able to empathize with each other because of shared experience, but have no special training. In addition, some may be designated as moderators to make sure that the forum stays effective and functional.
One thing to note: Not everyone is sensitive and kind, and that goes for people who are depressed and/or post on a depression forum. On one forum, I read a post from a teenager whose post describes feelings of loneliness and hopelessness, and one of the responses suggests that the poster stop being selfish. If you post, you don’t know who will respond, and you don’t know what they’ll say. You may hear from the kind and helpful type or the shape-up or ship-out type: you can’t tell in advance (except, perhaps, by the general tone of the forum). So consider the possibilities before you post.
The other type of depression forum has posters who are experts, usually psychologists or MDs, whose résumé is summarized and available for you to examine. These experts, while not a substitute for your own doctor, has the specialized knowledge that their degree and practice in the field of medicine or therapy confers. On some forums, you can specify that a question is particularly for a doctor, not just for the community at large.
One important thing to note: some depression forums feature experts from countries other than the United States. When dealing with depression, it is important to recognize that depression manifests differently in different cultures. (There is a small amount of information about this in the article titled “Physical Depression.”) You should be aware that because of these differences, the advice or understanding of depression that an expert from, say, an Arabic country has, may not have much bearing on your situation.
A second thing to note: The answer you receive may be several days coming for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with how important the expert feels your situation is. For example, an expert in a different time zone might not even see your post for quite some time. So if you need immediate assistance, it is best to consult your own medical team or - if applicable - a family member, friend, neighbor, crisis hotline, the forum at large, or whomever can best support you in the current situation.
A third thing to note: Even if you receive a very clear-cut, well-thought-out, expert answer, if your question was about a change to your medication or a serious decision of any kind, you should not go ahead without consulting whomever you have been relying on for medical support.
Think Before You Reveal
In a survey of depression forums, it was determined that people post extremely personal and revealing information there. Even when using a screen name, there may be privacy issues. Think carefully before you post personal information on a depression forum, or anywhere else.
Related Article: Depression Quiz >>