We use the Internet for a variety of things these days. We connect with friends, shop, and even get a college education online. So it shouldn’t be surprising that people are now beginning to seek counseling for problems like anxiety and depression from the convenience of their computers.
To back up this trend, recent research has shown that Internet-based therapy can, in some cases, be just as successful as traditional therapy approaches like counseling and medication. Add to that the fact that Internet therapy is less expensive and doesn’t require commuting back and forth to the therapist’s office, and you can begin to see why this new approach to treating anxiety and depression is growing in popularity.
Although getting treatment via the Internet does save time and money and is usually more immediate than setting up an appointment for sometime in the near future with a therapist, it is recommended for only the least severe cases of anxiety and depression. For moderate to severe cases, you should still seek out a local counselor who can see you in their office.
There are several factors that may explain why Internet counseling may be gaining in popularity, aside from being cheaper and more convenient. One reason may be that patients feel more in control. It is a familiar medium for them to consume information from, so they feel comfortable and motivated. It appears that people are almost more motivated to beat their depression and anxiety via this form of treatment than others.
But I think the biggest factor is that some people are able to open up more because of the anonymity of the internet. You can remain anonymous while you divulge your fears, stressors, frustrations, and aggravations. People are prone to sharing more and revealing their true selves when they can hide behind their computer screens without fear of judgment. And let’s not forget that the computer can be turned off, but people cannot. It is easier to walk away from the computer than a face-to-face interaction.
Of course, it’s doubtful that psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists will be out their jobs any time soon. Many patients will continue to seek out individualized or group therapy for a variety of reasons. Different approaches work best for different people. However, in the future, there may be a new and better approach to how to treat depression and anxiety, one that uses the Internet in conjunction with the tried and true methods of therapy and medication to enhance their effectiveness.
There may be many advantages to Internet therapy, but there are a few drawbacks as well, and one of the biggest is the isolation factor. Research shows that as Internet use has increased in recent years, social interaction with family and friends has decreased dramatically. In fact, Internet use has become an addiction for some individuals, leading to isolation and loneliness. Unfortunately, they are isolating themselves from the very people who may be able to help them the most.
Regardless of what methods of treatment you decide to pursue, whether it’s prescription medications, individualized therapy, natural remedies for anxiety and depression, or Internet counseling, you should always consult with your doctor to make sure these treatments are right for you.