Family is key in addressing social media-led depression

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Family is key in addressing social media-led depression

Dubai/Sharjah - Psychotherapy and family intervention are important in cases where youngsters have voiced their desire to end their lives.


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Sun 23 Dec 2018, 10:13 PM

Immediate family intervention, psychotherapy, and medication in some cases are vital tools families and parents can use to treat depression that is driven by social media.
Following the incident involving the 20-year-old Indian girl in Sharjah, who said she would post a video of her suicide bid on social media, Khaleej Times spoke to a few psychiatrists to determine tell-tale signs and action plans that parents can take note of.
Dr Binu Balan, head psychiatrist at Al Fasht Medical Centre, said: "Youngsters in this age group are very vulnerable as they might be coping with several social and psychological issues. They tend to have an ongoing problem with depression, and the chances of extreme distress are most likely."
According to the doctor, psychotherapy and family intervention are important in cases where youngsters have voiced their desire to end their lives.
"Depending on the case, ranging from moderate to severe, some youngsters should be given medication, too. This needs to be monitored as depressive patients tend to overdose," Dr Balan added.
Mohammed Yousef, a specialist psychiatrist at Aster Clinic - Al Muteena, also said social media-led depression cases are few and far between, however, it's not entirely uncommon.
"There is a lot of job-related distress and anxiety cases that we deal with. However, in the case of children with social media anxiety, if children show slight behavioural changes, parents must be on the alert. In severe cases, immediate medical attention is required," Yousef said.
Dr Balan added: "In the case of tell-tale signs, reactions from patients will be very visible. Youngsters will look withdrawn and distressed. Parents and friends must be alert as well, as there are so many consequences if we don't pay attention to a cry for help."
Speaking about monitoring social media use, Dr Balan said it would depend on the media or gadget usage policy at home. "It is good if parents and family know about these things," he added.
The doctors said communication between all members of the family is important as it provides a secure environment for the young.
Social media anxiety
According to some experts, just being away from social networking websites for a few minutes can cause severe anxiety. 
Some of the tell-tale symptoms include interrupting conversations to check your social media accounts; lying to others about how much time you spend on social media; and withdrawal from friends and family.
Young people also suffer from a loss of interest in other activities; neglect work or school to comment on Facebook or Twitter account; and they also experience withdrawal symptoms when they cannot access social media accounts. 
Youngsters may also have an overwhelming need to share things with others on social media sites and have their phone with them at all times.
Patients may suffer from severe anxiety when they are not able to check their notifications, and it negatively impacts their lives.

Tell-tale signs of social media obsession and anxiety
The defining feature of a major depressive episode is a period of at least two weeks during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest in nearly all activities.
In the case of children, one is more likely to see irritability than depressed mood.
The major symptoms of depression include:
> Feelings of hopelessness
> Loss of interest in normal daily activities
> Irritable mood
> Diminished self-care
> Insomnia or hypersomnia
> Fatigue or loss of energy
> Social media addiction
> Excessive guilt
> Difficulty in concentration
> Difficulty in making decisions
> Physical complaints: headaches, stomachache
> Isolation from friends and family
> Recurrent thoughts of death
> Suicidal thoughts, actions, or plans
> Significant weight loss or weight gain

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