How mental health became a social media minefield

Subtitled “Social media is now basically WebMD for mental health”, this article by Rebecca Jennings has been published by Vox. It begins:

“When I first downloaded TikTok, in the fall of 2018, it only took a few days for my algorithm to figure out that I have ADHD. To be fair, this isn’t all that impressive, as TikTok and the rest of the internet make it extremely difficult to focus on a single thing for more than five seconds — there is simply so much stuff to look at! — and it’s certainly possible to argue that anyone who spends enough time online may experience some of the symptoms that help psychologists diagnose patients.

Videos would show up on my For You page with captions like ‘Hidden signs you’re ADHD’ and ‘what my ADHD brain feels like,’ and I’d roll my eyes because I knew what was coming: They’d reference common attributes of the modern mind — difficulty focusing and difficulty switching tasks, difficulty completing boring tasks and difficulty completing difficult tasks — and finish by saying, ‘If you relate to this, congrats! You probably have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.’

The nebulous definition of ADHD, and Big Pharma’s push to diagnose and treat it, has made the disorder’s very existence the subject of intense cultural debate since before I was born. Were we overdiagnosing neurotypical brain functions? Were we overmedicating children who were simply acting like children? Was it all the health care industry’s fault? This line of questioning is a touchy subject for plenty of people who have found meaning and identity and medical help from their diagnosis. It has also turned discussions around ADHD and psychological conditions with similar symptoms — generalized anxiety disorder, depression, autism spectrum disorder — into land mines, capable of turning a good-faith debate into an endless back-and-forth of ad hominem attacks. …”

You can read more from here.

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