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Communication About Depression on the Internet – factor of Psychopathology or Resource for Psychotherapy?

Faintukh Elizaveta Dmitrievna1 Kholmogorova Alla Borisovna2
1 Online psychological services service “YouTalk", Moscow, Russia
2 Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Faculty of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Moscow, Russia
Introduction: Communication about mental disorders on the Internet is becoming widespread. Among adolescents and young people, a specific feature of such communications is the use of Internet memes dedicated to the topic of depression and suicide.
Objective: To study the relationship between interest in Internet memes about depression and suicide and the severity of depression symptoms in participants in communication about mental disorders and to substantiate the need to use Internet communications to provide psychological assistance to adolescents and young people.
Sample: 1,130 respondents aged 13 to 25 (M = 19.3 +/- 2.1) were interviewed using a Google form, which was asked to fill out by members of communities on a social network dedicated to Internet memes.
Methods: Beck Depression Scale, TAS-20 Toronto Alexithymia Scale, COPE Coping Strategy Scale, as well as two author's questionnaires to identify: 1) respondents’ attitudes towards Internet memes about depression and suicide; 2) the influence of interest in Internet memes about depression and suicide on the emotional state of the respondents.
Results: The most pronounced interest in Internet memes about depression and suicide was noted among respondents with symptoms of depression. Respondents with depression symptoms who showed interest in Internet memes also demonstrate pronounced difficulties in identifying and expressing feelings, while viewing Internet memes about depression and suicide, according to the subjective assessment of respondents, contributes to some improvement in mood. Thus, viewing Internet memes about depression and suicide is reinforced and can turn into a kind of strategy for coping with difficult feelings. This strategy should be viewed as unproductive, since the severity of interest in Internet memes about depression and suicide correlates positively with such destructive strategies as avoidance and ventilation of emotions and negatively with the most constructive problem-solving strategy.
Conclusion: Temporary relief of the condition when viewing Internet memes about depression and suicide in adolescents and young people with symptoms of depression prevents recognition and constructive solution of problems, including seeking professional help from participants in communication about depression and suicide who need it. It is necessary to develop programs for providing psychological assistance to young people in a state of emotional maladjustment using Internet resources.

Key words: internet communication, internet memes; online psychotherapy; depression, suicide, social media
Contacts: ORCID ORCID 
CITATION: Faintukh E.D., Kholmogorova A. B. Communication About Depression on the Internet – factor of Psychopathology or Resource for Psychotherapy? // Sovrem. ter. psih. rasstrojstv [Current Therapy of Mental Disorders]. – 2021. – No. 1. – P. 44–54. – DOI: 10.21265/PSYPH.2021.39.62.006 [in Russian]
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: the authors declare no conflict of interest.

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