Social media is a double-edged sword in depression

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 15) — Does social media trigger depression or does it help spot people who need help?

For actress and depression survivor Antoinette Taus, the interwebs can be both beneficial and harmful to our mental health.

“Everybody is talking about the beautiful things on social media, which is totally understandable. But in reality, social media can also deter us from the truth,” said Taus, who herself suffered from depression for more than 10 years following her mother’s passing.

Still, social media can be a venue for empathy, she told CNN Philippines’ On The Record. The World Health Organization (WHO) mental health advocate stressed that people need to be understanding when people vent out online, whether the words are angry or in “a loving, sad, heartbreaking manner.”

“For these people sometimes, when people accuse them of being dramatic, it can push them deeper into the darkness, instead of people really coming out to help them,” she said.

Taus also pointed out that there is still stigma on people who may be dealing with depression on their own terms. “All you can think of is typing what you feel,” she added.

She said there can be days when one tends to share their feelings online because they feel they do not know who to speak to. People who cry for help are being called “emo” or “madrama.”

Psychiatrist Corazon Angela Cuadro said the feeling of emptiness is one of the symptoms of a person suffering from depression. Others are loss of pleasure; changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and/or weight; self-critiquing, feeling of fatigue, sluggishness, loss of concentration, and suicidal ideations.

“Count five out of the nine (symptoms) almost every day for two weeks, and then that’s a point suggestive of further evaluation. I am not saying that’s depression immediately,” Cuadro said. The psychiatrist encouraged everyone to be vigilant when a loved one shows these symptoms.

Designer Jean Goulbourn wished she had known these warning signs.

“I was really ignorant,” she talked with calmness as she opened up about losing her daughter Natasha to depression 17 years ago.

“Being a psychology student and a journalism (practitioner), I thought I knew it all. At that time, I was just stunned. I did not even see the signs,” she said.

After depression robbed her of her daughter in 2002, she made mental health her advocacy and founded the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation. With the help of other organizations, she introduced Hopeline, a hotline that offers caring, non-judgmental listening, crisis intervention and suicide prevention available over the phone or by text.

Goulbourn said there are a lot of millennial workers taking their lives because of stress in the corporate world, that not even a free gym membership or a good pay could save.

“We are surrounded by visionary businessmen, if only they could just start showing empathy, kindness, compassion,” she said.

Watch the full episode of “On The Record: Dealing with Depression” below.