Information Needs Among People with Depression and Anxiety – Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket
Perhaps one of the challenging things about struggling with anxiety and depression comes from the uncertainty, the unknown and the fear that something is wrong with you. On top of that, there is the worry and dread that all of those unwanted thoughts and feelings may be things that endure and that you will have to always struggle with.
Anxiety and depression can fill your head with all sorts of worrying, fearful and stressful thoughts. These exacerbate all of the bad, uncomfortable and unwanted feelings you are experiencing, and in turn, those feelings add to even more of those unwanted thoughts that crowd your head. Even things that might ordinarily seem like little things, can get magnified and amplified inside your head until they seem like great battles to face and challenges to try and overcome.
To compound matters, you may find yourself withdrawing from your usual activities and from your friends, giving you yet more time to think and less to be distracted by. You may find your appetite is affected, that you drink more alcohol or caffeine and that you struggle to sleep. These things mean you are more stressed, agitated and tired, making everything seem much harder and burdensome (which adds even more unwanted and troublesome thoughts and feelings to the mass of things you are struggling with).
One of the most common early steps when you are struggling with your thoughts and feelings is to turn to the internet and try and work out what it is that you are experiencing. You just want to understand what is happening to you and what you can do to try and feel a bit better. You are worried that something is seriously wrong with you so it’s only natural to try and work out what it could be and how serious it is.
Unfortunately, within the mix of anxiety and depression information online, there are also many potential pitfalls, filled with inaccuracy and misleading information, that can exacerbate your worry, anxiety and stress. And there are many types of information about your anxiety and depression that you may seek out.
Online Health Information Seeking
As mentioned, using the internet is probably the most common starting point these days for anyone trying to understand what is wrong with them and what they can do about it.
I’ve written before about health anxiety and the perils of using the internet for seeking health information (Health Anxiety and Online Health Information Seeking). Many with health anxiety seek out health information online to try and understand their symptoms and to try and seek reassurance. Yet the online descriptions of conditions are often so vague and overlapping that pretty much any physical symptom can lead you down a path which suggests something serious, debilitating or even fatal.
Whilst the availability of online health information can help you to become better informed about health issues, there are also disadvantages associated with online health information searches such as low quality information that is inaccurate, incomplete or misleading. You may search online to try and feel reassured, yet instead you end up feeling overwhelmed. And you may spend a considerable amount of time and energy adding to your anxiety as you attempt to analyse, understand and make sense of the health information that you find through your searches. The research suggests that online information searches are associated with the increase in health anxiety among health information seekers, and anxious health seekers are more likely to seek medical attention (Peng, 2022).
And this need for information is just as great when you are struggling with anxiety and depression.
Chan et al (2022), carried out a review aiming to provide a broad overview of information needs of people with depression and anxiety as well as the sources that they use to seek out this information. Fifty-six studies (comprising 8320 participants) were included, and information needs were categorised into seven themes, including general facts, treatment, lived experience, healthcare services, coping, financial/legal, and other information.
For those suffering with anxiety and depression, the most sought out and needed information needs concerned general facts about their symptoms and treatment information. The review suggested that information needs appeared to be high in people with depression and anxiety, and the main reported sources of information were health professionals and media sources (including the internet).
The internet continues to grow as a source for mental health information. Using the internet to seek health information offers availability, convenience, coverage of information, anonymity, and interactivity. With issues such as anxiety and depression, the internet can offer an extensive range of information sources and suggestions, and allows you to search safety and confidentially (which can be particularly important if you don’t want others to know or are worries about the perceived stigma of mental health issues).
However, as I’ve previously discussed in relation to health anxiety and seeking online information, there is always a risk that what you discover on some websites may be inaccurate or misleading. Perhaps particularly when you don’t feel great and just want to feel better as quickly as possible, it can be difficult to distinguish the helpful from the unhelpful online. And, of course, a worried, depressed or anxious brain can easily take something seen online and spin it into a thousand worst case scenarios or reasons to worry even more about what you are experiencing. As well as that, too much information can also add to, and create, excessive worry and anxiety about your symptoms and the potential longevity of what you are struggling with.
Hopefully, if you are struggling with depression and anxiety, you will seek help from an appropriate health professional, such as your doctor or an experienced mental health therapist. One of the reasons I publish these articles here on my website is to try and share accurate, and where possible, scientifically backed, information to help you to understand and take beneficial action to help with your anxiety and/or depression. And one of the reasons I offer a free face to face initial consultation is so that all of this information can be discussed in a way tailored to your individual needs, rather than as a one size fits all approach.
And if there is anything you would like to ask or know about anxiety and depression, or you’d like to learn more about how hypnotherapy can help you, then please do get in touch and we can have a talk about how you can start feeling better in yourself.
To your health and happiness,
Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket
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Chan, F.H., Lin, X., Griva, K., Subramaniam, M., Ćelić, I. and Tudor Car, L., 2022. Information needs and sources of information among people with depression and anxiety: a scoping review. BMC psychiatry, 22(1), pp.1-18.
Peng, R.X., 2022. How online searches fuel health anxiety: Investigating the link between health-related searches, health anxiety, and future intention. Computers in Human Behavior, p.107384.