Helpful or Harmful?; The role of Instagram in the recovery from Major Depressive Disorder
Elliott, Bethan Daisy
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In recent decades there has been a proliferation of both young people and young adults aged 10-24 suffering from diagnosable mental health issues. One of the most commonly diagnosed mental illness is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with up to 18% of adolescents developing the disorder by eighteen years old. Concurrent to the rise in MDD, the social networking sharing platform Instagram has boomed in popularity with the number of users rising from 150 million in 2015 to 800 million in 2017. As a consequence of this phenomenon the online support community has started to trickle from other social media sites (such as Facebook) onto Instagram;; with users creating accounts for the dual purpose of documenting their mental health ‘journey’ and accessing social support from those in a similar situation. As this is such a novel development, there is a substantial lack of research into the MDD “recovery community”. To investigate this growing phenomenon a qualitative study was undertaken, interviewing with 6 participants aged 18-25 who currently have, or have held, a recovery Instagram account having been recruited through social media. A semi-structured interview was prepared, with results analysed using thematic analysis. Analysis suggested that a recovery Instagram is simultaneously both helpful and harmful towards recovery from MDD. This qualitative study into the role of recovery Instagram accounts when recovering from MDD is novel and more research is needed as this community is growing rapidly.
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