On Facebook and other social media platforms, we all have friends who actively post pictures and their thoughts. Most of the posts and pictures on Facebook are of a happy nature, with posts of special events, vacations, selfies, and other uplifting content. In fact, many people post their happiest moments and their best selfies on Facebook, even to the point of being too perfect. Afterall, many people have perfect posts with their perfect lives on Facebook, but real life is not like that.
That is why it is concerning when Facebook friends post negative content- the norm is to post perfect lives, not negative ones. These negative posts do not occur often, but when they do, they stick out like a sore thumb. Granted, as a psychiatrist, I’m trained to look for human suffering via their thoughts and the way they look. So Facebook is prime for a shrink to pick out those who post negative content, depicting human suffering.
Let me show you how to tell if your friends on Facebook are anxious or depressed by what they post. But why even bother to learn this? Well, when your friends and family members are suffering mentally, you want to be able to identify what is going on. Then when you identify that a Facebook friend is in distress, then you can commence to help them in supportive, validating, and loving ways. People post things on Facebook as a way to seek help and support. This article shows you how to be helpful.
Identifying Anxiety And Depression From Facebook Posts
There are two important items to consider when identifying if someone is depressed or anxious on Facebook…you will look at the content of what they post, and you will look at the pictures they post. With the writing on their Facebook posts, you look for any recurring, negative content, where they are feeling hopeless, apathetic, sad, anxious, fearful, worried, or stressed out. And with the pictures they post, you look for pictures that denote suffering and stress, such as eyes looking down, themes of isolation, themes of hopelessness, or any other pictures that denote sadness, anxiety, or stress.
If someone is suffering from anxiety, they might worry that they will not be able to cope with some stressful situation, they will fail, or that something terrible will happen. These thoughts then induce anxious feelings, and to deal with these uncomfortable anxiety feelings, the sufferer tends to avoid all anxiety-provoking situations:
Negative Cycle of Anxiety
If someone is suffering from depression, they might ruminate that all is hopeless, they are useless, or that they will not be able to handle the stress. These thoughts then induce depressive feelings, and to deal with these uncomfortable depressive feelings, the sufferer tends to isolate from all social and stressful situations:
So how do you tell if being chronically stressed-out from a situation leads to anxiety or depression? Well, it largely depends on how you think- if you think you are going to fail and that something bad will occur, then anxiety sets in…if you think all is hopeless or that you are useless, then depression sets in:
Once you get an idea of what type of problem your friend has, either anxiety or depression, then you are halfway there on your efforts to help your friend or loved one who posts negative content on Facebook.
However, people are not always supportive and helpful when a depressed or anxious person posts depressing and worrisome content on Facebook. Although they have good-intentions and want to be supportive, people will comment on these negative posts and just make light of the issue, telling the person that they will get over it, it’s just a phase, or they just have to pull up their bootstraps and snap out of it. This type of response is not at all helpful to the sufferer- it invalidates the sufferer, and they in turn become more socially-isolated and avoidant, and hence more depressed or anxious.
How To Help
In fact, a person who is depressed or anxious really just wants kind words of support. They want a hug and they want someone to tell them that things will be alright…simple- that’s it! They don’t want to hear that they have no reason to be depressed or worried, as they have everything. That’s the irony of depression and anxiety- it can hit anyone, even if you do have everything financially, socially, and personally.
If your friend or loved one is suffering from more severe forms of anxiety or depression, then an immediate referral to their family doctor is in order, ideally with consultation from a psychiatrist. For more information and help on anxiety and depression, please visit the rest of AnxietyBoss.com.