Is Someone You Know Depressed? Find Out by Checking Their Web Habits

By Jamie Epstein June 25, 2012

Although it is completely normal for everyone to feel down in the dumps once in a while due to unemployment, unstable housing or the end of a relationship, being sad and feeling depleted every minute of every waking hour is simply not healthy.

According to the Center of Disease Control, as of April 2012 a mere two months ago, one in every 10 U.S. adults were considered depressed, a mental illness that if left untreated could have many negative effects.

The CDC recommends that “healthcare providers screen adults for depression when programs are in place to ensure that accurate diagnosis and effective treatment can be provided with careful monitoring and follow-up.” But how do you really know if a loved one, friend or colleague is in need of some assistance? What about looking at their Internet usage patterns?

Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of carefully analyzing their food intake, wavering productivity levels or sluggishness, you can now refer to their overall online activity. Researchers are revealing that depressed people use the Internet differently than those who weren't with signs including obsessively checking e-mail, watching lots of videos, and switching frequently among multiple apps.

The man I turn to for all of the juiciest gossip no matter the topic, Perez Hilton, revealed in a recent article that after asking 216 college students to complete a survey to determine whether they were depressed or, the tech department then closely monitored their online habits.

"This didn't mean snooping on what the students were looking at or whom they were e-mailing,” the piece stated. “It merely meant monitoring how they were using the Internet - information about traffic flow that the university customarily collects for troubleshooting network connections and such."

After the research was looked at in-depth, findings highlighted a clear relationship between high depression scores and sharing files including music and movies much more frequently than those who didn’t have their frowns turned upside down.

However, “this would not replace the function of mental health professionals, but it could be a cost-effective way to prompt people to seek medical help early,” according to Center researchers. “It might also be a tool for parents to monitor the mood-related Internet usage patterns of their children.”

Bottom line: someone showing all the characteristics of a less than positive online user, should still be looked at closer for some heavy issues. And if they are, talk to them about it and give them the shoulder to cry on that they are in desperate need of.


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Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Web Editor

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