Mobile phone use may worsen depression

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I really don’t want to be the annoying “Correlation is not causation!!!” guy; but I do have to wonder if ‘problematic mobile phone users’ are forgoing personal contact with friends out of ignorance that this is a problem; or whether they are using the relatively high-quantity(but apparently less than fully satisfactory as a substitute) phone/internet mediated contacts because they don’t have as many, or any, viable options for IRL friends.

Socializing is…tricky…if getting dressed and out of the house is a veritable epic heroic quest; and depression related symptoms and behaviors don’t exactly make it easy to maintain(much less expand, hahah…) one’s social network.

I know, personally, that I don’t putz around on various online fora because I think that it’s actually an adequate substitute for a social life; but because it is less wholly inadequate than not doing so and not having personal contact.

Hopefully the researchers are able to compensate for this confounding effect; but I definitely get the impression that some concerned-layman chiding about ‘you need to get out more/stop isolating yourself behind the computer’ comes from a position of being so unfamiliar with not having a viable social circle that it is simply assumed that the person who is engaging in some sub-optimal form of substitute socializing must be neglecting the social circle they obviously have, because doesn’t everyone?; rather than considering that the behavior may be an (admittedly, probably counterproductive in the long term) attempt to at least ascend to the nearest local maximum in absence of better options.


Seconded. What else do people with anxiety disorders and depression do to help them cope? Among the answers are self-harm, alcoholism and drug abuse. Are the mobile phones keeping them from more fulfilling contact, or are they keeping them from drinking? I have to think that sometimes it’s one and sometimes it’s the other.


Wouldn’t it kind of depend on what the cell phone was saying? I can think of a good many phone calls that would have the opposite effect.

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" Socializing is…tricky…if getting dressed and out of the house is a veritable epic heroic quest; and depression related symptoms and behaviors don’t exactly make it easy to maintain(much less expand, hahah…) one’s social network"

Sincere thanks. This perfectly describes my everyday situation. Nobody else, it seems, has ever understood just how difficult and overwhelming the most basic things can be - even going to the letterbox and taking out the rubbish (box and bins no more than perhaps 15 metres from my front door) can be too much to deal with.

So far my ‘record’ for not stepping foot outside my front door has been 12 days. During which time my only contact with the outside world… was through my moby.


Unfortunately, people seem to cling to the idea that problems with action must stem from problems with knowledge(right back to Plato’s theory that to know the good was to do the good) at least in part because their list of options dwindles, fast, if the problem is not in fact a knowledge problem.

You see the same thing in other conditions that result in improper or inadequate action: the “Oh, surely we can solve executive function problems with some Organization 101 tips and a day planner!” routine is a personal non-favorite. Trouble is, even if you can convince them to stop providing the advice that you already know, and watch yourself acting in spite of; they get a bit less annoying but don’t have much ‘second-line’ advice. The one that always gives you the sense that this therapy may not be money well spent is where their sole contribution is to translate the complaint you came in with into either latin, greek, or medical jargon, as appropriate, and call it a diagnosis.

“So, I’ve been finding that none of the things I historically have enjoyed provide me with any pleasure, happiness, or engagement.” “Hmm. That’s characteristic of Anhedonia.” “How…um…tautologically accurate of you…”

At least with better established areas of medicine, the diagnosis sometimes provides information beyond that contained in the patient’s description of the symptoms. Team psych is rarely so helpful.


I feel i have to speak up here given I’m probably on of those people this study would wave around going See look! technology turns people into bitter assholes!

After I failed college I basically ended up having to live with family since no real social connections, and I had no real way to get to and from work because disabilities mean I can never drive (and am a poor candidate for Lasik. I check every few years in case that changes and it’s still not a good risk. Something about how my eyes move and things are titled or whatnot.) Because I was with family though I had no friends to help with the slack. All these little things going on to keep me isolated with nobody really intending on Bad Things. Part of it was me just kinda shrugging and drifting along since up till then College was the Big Huge Thing. I failed that, and it kept feeling like i got hit in the face by it on a daily basis and so I just withdrew.

I help out, build things, help with my special needs siblings, helped when mom got hospitalized, but it’s more I exist and have no real non-family social network.

…Except through the computer.

Because of my social failings and lack of outlets things that happen on the computer take on more meaning, what one would normally take no notice of take on huge meaning to me, which ends p causing weird things. I get blocked out of a social group in a text game off here, most people wouldn’t care. For me though that was… Everything so when it blew up I blew up which fed back in. Well because i basically wreckingballed this one highly active place everywhere else those people go are suddenly seeing me as toxic when all I’m doing is trying to rebuild what substitute for a social life and interpersonal connections i can. I’m not always successful, and I have been and sometimes still am a verbally abusive jerk.

But When you feel like you have little you cling to what little you have, and for a lot of people the Internet, Online, and the like is that last straw to cling on to since normal human interaction is either overwhelming, too much of a production to do for a variety of reasons (For example I can’t drive and live rural so yea. Going Out is a bit of a thing for me. End of the day I wouldn’t blame computers so much as simply look at people that desperately cling to their phones or feel like paying x amount per y messages on sites like Ashley Madison need help that they aren’t getting.

We are after all social creatures. Getting rejected hurts. Getting rejected when you know you’re in a lifeboat situation socially hurts even worse because it reaffirms that feeling you are a failure, a freak among freaks, rejected because you can’t hack it in the world. Go crawl in a hole. Nobody will miss you.

It’s hard to crawl back from. Harder still when trying to find some sense of worth and everyone is going ‘write for you,’ ‘stop seeking external validation,’ ‘you’re a weak person that only wants to seek approval.,’ ‘Go away we don’t have time for you, seek professional help,’ an the like…

We are social creatures. We do not do well when we cannot find that social niche to fit in. Even those that prefer alone are still secure socially and have that need met. A lot of people are not so lucky so tend to get… angry when they see themselves as threatened, or draw further inward if confronted.


Indeed! My experience of psychiatrists is that they spend an hour asking you how you feel and you tell them you feel pretty bad, then they say, “You have dysthymia.” You mean the condition of feeling pretty bad all the time? Thanks!

This is especially frustrating to me because in the last year I’ve read a lot about Borderline Personality Disorder - a mental illness that describes me very well - that psychiatrists never asked the right questions to check for. If they had, I think their diagnosis might have actually helped me learn something about myself.

I like my psychotherapist, but that’s not about getting a diagnosis.

This was very enlightening for me to read. I pass for “normal” super well. I do things like have a job, friendships, family, etc., so in some ways I’m pretty lucky. But I don’t think people have any clue what an internal struggle that is for me, how exhausting it is to parse out how I am supposed to behave in social situations. Sometimes I get insanely agitated over things that don’t make any sense - like someone at a coffee shop asking how I am doing. Mostly of the time I can say, “Fine,” and move on, but sometimes that kind of thing seems paralyzing.

But you’ve really hit on it here - it’s fight or flight mode (flight being emotional flight or dissociation). Since I am just passing for a person that can have friends and a job and a family, I feel like I’m constantly under threat of being outed as a Machiavellian pretender - a non-human. Every social interaction feels like a test I have to pass. This is a really helpful perspective, my therapist asks me what it’s like for me when I get in these situations and I honestly had no idea, now I think I can give a more useful explanation.


Considering in every social situation I’ve felt like an outsider and every time I feel getting passed over it’s because I’m not part of the group/clique/crowd and that iftoo much attention is drawn to me I’m going to get thrown out for not totally absolutely conforming.

I’m too agressive for a lot of online communities, because i see that sort of trying to be nice but not actually speaking your mind outside of veiled snide remarks as passive aggressive horseshit that further makes it hard for me to pick up on if I’m screwing up and if I need to fix things… and so by the time people STOP with the passive aggressive it’s too late and I’m about to get chunked out.

In meatspace I’m generally just off in a corner due to every time I’ve tried growing up getting a verbal dressing down, or honestly feeling like everyone is going to think I’m some kind of weird stalker person or something.

So don’t feel bad. You’re not alone in the whole socially fubarness feeling. Dunno how that’ll help, but it might make you feel less like you’re one kind of singular freak that’s just too stupid to get what everyone else takes for granted.


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