“Sometimes, anxiety doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. You can’t change your personality, and why would you want to? You’re such a lovely girl.”
I recently realised that there are many Facebook communities/pages for people with mental health issues, each one specific to an issue, such as anxiety or depression (you may think that I’ve lived under a rock most of my life). On these pages, people post inspiring messages, positive stories, issues they are dealing with, questions about coping, and even screams for help. And every comment is supportive, and usually contains a “I feel exactly the same way”.
“Anxiety is a burden. But having anxiety doesn’t make you a burden.”
I don’t specialise in this type of psychology (I wish I could research everything!), but with this strange feeling of community, and of unconditional understanding, a weight is lifted, that I’m certain helps people through their most difficult moments. An invisible support system that is available 24/7 with no judgements. Social media has the power to do great things.
However, can it become an issue, and have a negative effect when reading about millions of other people’s awful stories and worries? Is there a limit to how many people should have the same problems as you, and does too many cause a worry that things will never get better?
Here are just two papers to have a look at to pique your interest:
The Yin and Yang of support from significant others: Influence of general social support and partner support of avoidance in the context of treatment for social anxiety disorder (Ronald, Peters, Carpenter and Gaston, 2015).
Perceived social support helps, but does not buffer the negative impact of anxiety disorders on quality of life and perceived stress (Panayiotou and Karekla, 2013).