Depression in the digital age: how online counselling is leading the fight against mental health issues.
Online counselling is a life saver in this era. Due to a fast paced lifestyle today, online counselling has found its place to heal people. Online counselling as the name suggests, is the provision of professional mental health counselling services via the Internet and telephone. The use of online counseling services is becoming far more popular lately because of social media, online business, and virtual employment. Now, licensed and certified doctors and therapists can provide online assistance to customers and treat certain clinical conditions like depression, bipolar, and anxiety.
COUNSELLING IS THE MEDICINE FOR THE SOUL
According to Medical Daily, online counselling is a necessity in the modern age, and for at least one simple reason: most people will not get help any other way. Only one third of all people suffering from major mental disorders or high stress will seek the proper care for it. Traveling regularly to an office may be problematic for people on disability or who can’t afford to travel long distances, like from a rural home to the city, where most doctors are located.A survey among men compared to women found that men are twice as likely as women to avoid getting help because of the negative association of therapy. However, the anonymous option of online counseling allows them to chat with discretion.
What is depression?
“Human bodies are designed for regular physical activity. The sedentary nature of much of modern life probably plays a significant role in the epidemic incidence of depression today”-Andrew Weil, MD guru of alternative medicine
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. Sometimes the only way to understand depression is by hearing the wisdom of others. When we get wrapped up in our problems and our point of view, we may not be able to see things. We let our intuition be our guide rather than looking at things objectively.
Signs and symptoms
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.
Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.
Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.
DEPRESSION IN INDIA
Almost 10 million depression related searches are done on Google every month in India. Therefore 50 million people, which translate to 5% of our population, today live with depression in India. The biggest irony is that a lot of help is available. Yet, people do not make use of the opportunity. However many misconceptions about mental health and the social stigma prevents people to take this help. Online Counselling is changing it.
Today, Internet has many solution for depression and other mental related treatments in the form of Online therapy. Online therapy also known as online counselling or e-therapy is the delivery of mental health counselling via the Internet. Today, nearly 6% of all mobile health applications are now devoted to mental health.
5 reasons how online counselling can really help beat depression in India.
The biggest benefits of e-therapy is easy accessibility. There are 300 million+ internet users in India that is likely to grow to 600 million by 2020. With this, anyone with any mental related issues can connect with top psychologists and counsellors with just a click of button.Online counselling overcomes barriers that may preclude others from seeking therapy. For example, individuals residing in rural or remote areas where there is no counselling services can benefit from the accessibility of online counselling. Even people in remote areas can seek help from experts in large cities without physically need to reach to them. Those that are physically disabled or unable to leave their home can also easily access such services with little inconvenience. Those that have visual and hearing impairments can also benefit from such services. online counselling has also shown to be effective in encouraging children and teenagers to receive therapy as they seem to be more comfortable with using the internet.
2. No Social Stigma – Its Safe and Anonymous
The biggest barrier in India society is the social stigma, fear or taboo of seeking help from experts while in depression. Most people consider going to therapist as same as going to psychiatrists for any mental disorder. With online therapy, users can be anonymous and speak freely about their problems without any fear. No one need to know their real identity and it really helps them open up and share their problems without any fear.The absence of face to face contact can also prompt clients to communicate more openly without concerns for bias of race, gender, age, size or physical appearance. This may lead to an increased level of honesty and therefore higher validity in the case of self disclosure. The internet clearly offers a level of anonymity that is perceived by many users as non-threatening through allowing an ‘invisibility’.
3. It’s Super Convenient
Online therapy is convenient. Both the therapist and the client have the convenience of corresponding with each other at a range of variant times. This style of therapy can take away the hassle of scheduling and setting appointments more common in traditional settings. This also creates an opportunity for the therapist to extend their services to more clients as appointments can be potentially scheduled over 24 hours and reach a larger geographical region.
For those individuals who are ambivalent about therapy or who may be uncomfortable with traditional models of therapy, may find online counselling more suitable whereby it has been found that online therapy is preferred by those who are uncomfortable with talking face to face with someone about their problems or who are suffering from social phobias, agoraphobia or anxiety disorders.There is no travel to another. More importantly you can choose anytime that is most convenient for you.
4. Affordable and Cost Effective
Today, you can get a lot of advice for free on internet. Similarly solutions and advice from expert counsellors are also available at a fraction of cost of face to face counselling sessions. That is because many counsellors can provide answers at their convenient time. This allows them to connect to broader sections of society and gain more reputation in the form of online reviews and recommendation. This is why a lot of counsellors are ready to provide therapy related answers online or ready to connect on chat, phone or video. Especially for those therapists who are unwilling or cannot afford to rent commercial space thereby lowering overhead costs of capital, property, commuting and administration procedures when compared to traditional counselling services
5. Choose your mode – Chat, Q&A, Phone or Video
Most communication through the internet is in written form. Online counselling, in which the mode of communication is often through writing via emails or a chat room, allows both the client and the therapist to pay close attention to their communication and reflect on their thoughts and feelings prior to it being expressed. You can simply ask a question and wait for the right expert to answer it. Or you can chat with the counsellors online. Similarly you can connect on internet via audio or video sessions based on your convenience or urgency.
Have any questions on mental or emotional. Speak with experts through anonymous online counselling here .