People seek out depression forums for different reasons. There are also many different types of depression forums. This article contains information on how to choose a depression forum to help with your specific needs and learn the pros and cons of participating or joining depression forums.
Depression Forum Defined
Depression forums don’t really have a definition, and this is one reason to approach them carefully (see below). A depression forum can be any kind of online community that has a focus on depression generally, or on a specific subcategory of depression, like postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
A depression forum may have a sign up or may allow guest posts. Unless the forum has a moderator or consulting physicians, or unless you make outside contact with people, you do not know who you’re talking to beyond a screen name and the words that are typed and they don’t know you. The anonymity can be desirable for someone who does not want his or her name known.
Especially when a depression forum focuses on a subset of depression, it may be possible to find others who have had similar experiences to yours and who can provide helpful suggestions for predicaments, difficulties, and other challenges that you face or at least empathize from personal experience.
Reasons to Seek a Depression Forum
A depression forum can be a 24-hour place to find someone who may have some idea of what you’re going through and who can keep you company when your loved ones and your therapist are asleep. You can make contact with someone without having to disturb someone’s sleep, and this may mean you can gain some solace without feeling guilty. You also may be able to make quick contact during a break at work or between classes at school that can help you get through a trying day.
People with depression who wish for a support group but don’t live near an existing group may also find themselves looking online for support.
What to Be Careful of With a Depression Forum
There are four key things to be careful of if you post on a depression forum.
- No matter who is giving you advice—fellow sufferer or proclaimed medico—an online discussion is not the same as an office visit. Don’t use the forum for medical advice.
- Be careful of what you reveal about yourself. Prevent TMI (too much information) moments when you realize you’ve said way more than you meant to or are comfortable with when you’re feeling better.
- Beware of anyone discussing suicide pacts. If you find a discussion in which death is being planned, notify the moderator and call the police.
- Watch out for unkind posters. Both because words without facial expression and tone of voice can be difficult to interpret and because some people are either mean or have mental health issues besides depression, the response to your post may be cruel or nasty. If you encounter such behavior, you can choose to stay and fight, by contacting the forum moderator and standing up for yourself or it may be in your best interest to find another forum or a depression support group of live people who you can see. (People may tend to be nastier when they are anonymous.)