“Doomscrolling” is a “tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing,” Health magazine describes. And it’s an easy thing to do when researching a medical condition.
Though the Internet provides us with many benefits, the vast wealth of resources can possibly become damaging to your health. “For some individuals, repeated searches for medical information on the Internet exacerbate health anxiety,” according to a 2014 study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. Clinical psychologist Dr. Amelia Aldao explained to NPR part of why this may be so: “Our minds are wired to look out for threats,” she says. “The more time we spend scrolling, the more we find those dangers, the more we get sucked into them, the more anxious we get.”
We primarily encourage you to discuss any health concerns with your doctor first, but there are some ways to conduct medical research online that may help you find quality help.
Consider the Source
Being able to identify quality sources online can impact the kind of advice you receive about your health. “As a rule, health websites sponsored by Federal Government agencies are good sources of information,” the National Institute on Aging advises. They also recommend that “Large professional organizations and well-known medical schools may also be good sources of health information.”
When in doubt, ask your doctor which sites they turn to for information. Some of these may include the CDC, the American Medical Association, or the World Health Organization, as Save a Life by National Health Care Provider Solutions suggests.
Paying attention to the date and author of the article may also help guide you. Is the information current? Or reviewed by a medical professional? Also be wary of relying too heavily on patient testimonials, as PsychCentral warns: “Compelling personal testimonials often dissuade people from accepting scientific evidence. The vividness of personal testimony often trumps evidence of higher reliability.”
Set a Clear Purpose and Time Limit
NPR advises setting informational goals by “Going into it . . . reminding yourself why you’re there, what are you looking for, what information are you trying to find. And then periodically checking in with yourself — have I found what I needed?”
Setting a timer, using apps that monitor screen time, and carving out specific chunks of time for research are other approaches HuffPost recommends. Limiting screen time in general may not only prevent your doomscrolling, but improve your overall mental health, as a 2017 study in Preventive Medicine Reports “showed that moderate or severe depression level was associated with higher time spent on TV watching and use of computer.”
Compare Notes with a Trusted Friend
Talking with a friend or loved one over what you learn online may help you sort out the information more clearly. They can ask caring questions, make recommendations based on their long-time knowledge of you and your life, and also share their own experiences. As LiveScience points out, “friendship isn’t just about fun, fellowship and emotional health. Having friends can improve physical health, too.”
Keep in mind that your doctor, nurse, or other health specialist can also be included in this category! At LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, we are not only award-winning medical experts, but caring neighbors in your community, as well.
If you would like more help in conducting online medical research — or getting advice on any medical condition — our team is eager to help. Start your own research through our website or call 229-723-4241 for a personal appointment.
Learn More About LifeBrite
Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.