young Asian woman stresses at work looking at her computer

Depression 2.0 – Enter Technology

Depression in the modern day is changing. Sure it has the traditional components that we associate with depression. Sadness, restless sleep, withdrawal, irritability and lethargy still exist. But the explosion of technology in the last generation is unavoidable. And it is impacting “traditional” depression.

Technical saturation can prevent mental down time and warp our thinking. 24/7 social media, online bullying, auto emails/texts, and pages of mobile apps on our phones can not only be consuming, they can become addicting.

What does that mean to someone suffering from depression?

Technology and Depression

Some studies are linking excessive social media use and depression. We use social media for connection and affirmation. But subconsciously, many compare what they see and read to their own lives. This can cause us to feel inadequate, unsuccessful and uninformed. For someone struggling with depression, these feelings can exacerbate their grief.

One doesn’t need to look far to be experience discourse online, on the radio and on television. Political, social, and even sports programs thrive on bitter exchanges. For those struggling with depression, repeated exposure to negativity can reinforce their feelings of despair.

Anxiety and Depression

This technology phenomenon is also driving a significant increase in anxiety. For many, anxiety is now becoming synonymous with depression. While different diagnoses, about half of people with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. Approximately 16 million U.S. adults experienced a significant depression episode in the last year. About half of those, eight million, also experience serious anxiety with their depression.

When both are experienced together, characteristics are often amplified. Recovery can be slower. Recurrence rates are higher. Chronic symptoms are more pronounced. Social and familial impact can be greater.

With technology having a deeper impact on our lives, co-occurring anxiety and depression is increasing. Fortunately, both depression and anxiety are treatable, individually and as co-occurring disorders.

Depression, Technology and Sleep

Are you using your mobile device in bed right before bedtime? It may be adversely affecting your sleep. Excessive use of your computer or mobile device close to bedtime can have a negative impact on your sleep. Emotionally, interacting with upsetting, negative or argumentative content close to bedtime can contribute to restless sleep. Physiologically, the lights from electronic devices can impede melatonin secretion, the hormone that promotes sleep.

What Can I Do If I Have Depression (and Anxiety) Affected by Technology?

The first thing to “do” is to know that both depression and anxiety are treatable. Even if you have both together, a licensed professional or treatment center can help restore your balance. It can return you to the normal functioning, happy person you know still exists inside you. The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, is an excellent center that is recognized nationally for its success treating depression and anxiety.

Here are tips you can incorporate into your daily routine to help.

It sounds simple, but use less technology. Disengage as much as possible from social media. Do not watch or listen to programs you know will be filled with arguments and negativity. Spend that time to journal. Write down each day three things for which you are grateful. Write down one thing that inspires you. Write down one goal. Spend time with those who uplift you and do not judge you. Avoid those who bring you down and who do not encourage you.

One hour before bedtime, quit watching television. Do not eat heavy foods within an hour (or more) of bedtime. Create a quiet, dark cool and comfortable sleeping environment. Good sleep will provide restoration and support for your immune system, support cognitive function, and provide more energy for your body. More energy and better cognitive alertness can help minimize depressive and anxiety episodes.

Modern depression is becoming more complex for many. Fortunately, our understanding on how to treat depression, anxiety, and both together has advanced. If you or a loved one are struggling with either or both, contact a mental health professional.

 

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE. For over 30 years, The Center has treated thousands with depression and anxiety. Recognized as a Top 10 Center for the Treatment of Depression, The Center utilizes the whole person approach to care. Dr. Jantz is a leading voice and innovator in mental health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 39 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.