Can Using the Internet Help With Depression?

Posted by Dave Tomar on May 02, 2014

Can Using the Internet Help With Depression?

Maybe you just think of your computer as another household appliance. You use your blender to puree food. You use your TV to watch your soaps. You use your computer to pay your bills.

But the computer is so much more than that for so many seniors, especially those who live alone. The Internet is a doorway to the rest of the world and you can walk through it even if you don’t walk so well anymore. The web connects you to faraway relatives, gives you access to communities with shared interests and even gives you the chance to make new friends in the real world. This is why, according to a recent article in Reuters Health, retirees who use the Internet are not as likely to suffer from depression than are their less computer-savvy peers. 

Happiness is a Warm Keyboard

We all feel isolated and alone once in awhile. But aging can magnify these feelings. With retirement, you may be losing access to a vibrant community of friends, associates and new relations. With the loss of a spouse, you may be living alone for the very first time in your life. Of course, as you and your closest friends advance in age, it’s not as easy to get around for visits anymore. This is at least one reason, according to Reuters, that somewhere between 5 and 10% of all Americans over the age of 50 suffer from Depression.

But the Internet may offer an antidote. According to a recent study conducted by telecommunication researchers at Michigan State University, seniors who used the Internet saw a 33% reduction in the likelihood of suffering from depression. Moreover, the impact was greatest among those seniors living alone. In other words, for those who otherwise felt the greatest isolation from friends, family and the outside world, the internet provided the greatest relief.

Virtual Retirement Communities

Research shows that seniors are among the fastest growing user groups on the web. According to a recent Pew Research study, this year marks the first time in history that more than half of surveyed seniors identified themselves as Internet users. At 59%, seniors are adopting the Internet and making it their own. 

Seniors are using search engines to find information that was once not so accessible. Seniors are using social media forums like Facebook to connect with relatives and long-lost friends. Seniors are even using dating websites to get back out on the open market. 

Just as important, the web is a valuable resource for connecting to support groups, receiving health information from your providers, refilling your prescriptions or enjoying any number of other energy and time-saving conveniences. In short, says an article in USA Today, the web has the potential to be both invigorating and empowering for seniors. 

Going Digital

If you’re concerned that you don’t know the first thing about computers, chances are your grandchildren or your neighbor’s kids can give you a hand. Don’t be afraid to ask somebody for help. Using the web may seem hard at first but if current research is right, it will ultimately make your life a whole lot easier. 


TAGS: internet and depression