What Reddit tells us about our mental state in the corona crisis

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How exactly is the corona pandemic and its consequences affecting our mental health? To answer that question, scientists have now turned to Reddit.

The corona pandemic and the associated restrictions on public and private life also have an impact on our mental state in many cases. However, it is currently largely unclear how the sometimes drastic changes and the permanent risk of infection will affect people with various psychological conditions. To investigate this, a group of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University examined hundreds of thousands of Reddit posts.

The researchers used artificial intelligence to study changes in language before and during the first corona wave on Reddit. The focus was mainly on Reddit sub-forums in which individual mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression or anxiety disorders are discussed by those affected. In addition, the scientists also examined a total of eleven Reddit sub-forums that have no medical relevance for potential changes in the language.

Study results are “very worrying”

“We found that there were natural clusters related to suicidality and loneliness, and the number of posts in these clusters more than doubled during the pandemic compared to the same months of the previous year, which is very worrying” said Daniel Low, lead author of the study. The study also shows how different people with different mental illnesses reacted to the pandemic.

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The study authors admit, however, that they cannot check whether the participants in certain Reddit forums actually suffer from the mental illness discussed there. Nonetheless, the scientists involved hope that it will be published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research study can help better understand the mental health consequences of the pandemic.

If you yourself suffer from depression or have thoughts of suicide, you can always find the Telephone counseling Help. This can be done online or by telephone on the free hotlines 0800/1110 111 and 0800/1110 222 and is anonymous and confidential.

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