Blogging is Making You Depressed (And Not For The Reason You Think)


It's not the Pinterest boards of beautiful homes that look nothing like real life. It's not because so-and-so is thinner than you or prettier than you. It's not because everyone else is out at extravagant parties while you're at home. It's not because that so-and-so blogger has way more followers than you even though you have a better blog (the nerve!) Ok… some of the above may give you a smidge of bitter feelings. However, one thing we don't talk about that much is probably the biggest reason why blogging may wear a person down.

It's from sitting in front of a computer for hours on end.

Yes, that's right. Sitting in front of a screen. Or looking at a mobile device. A study that included 25,000 people over three years found that the participants who spent more than five hours per day in front of a computer reported feeling depressed, anxious and tired. Japanese researcher, Dr. Tetsuya Nakazawa, of Chiba University said of the study  “Mental health and sleep-related symptoms were significantly higher in the group having more than five hours of daily computer use.”

Whether you're a professional blogger or someone who works a day job in front of a computer then goes home and works in front of a computer to blog at home, you are likely to be logging significantly more than five hours per day. Personally, I know I clock in at least eight or nine hours per day.

All in all the correlation may not imply causation, some heavy internet users may have previously been depressed and use the internet as some form of self-medication. Researchers found depressed people peruse the internet differently. Oddly enough similarly to how a lot of bloggers use the internet since we're often required to multi-task between content creation, social media presence, and business development. One study of 216 undergraduate volunteers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, indicated “depressive people tended to exhibit high “flow duration entropy” — which often occurs when there is frequent switching among Internet applications like e-mail, chat rooms and games.” (Or blogging… who uses CHAT ROOMS anymore?)

“…people who use the Internet pathologically are most at risk of mental problems and would develop depression when they continue with that behavior.”

Lawrence Lam, an epidemiologist at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, Australia, and his colleague Zi-Wen Peng at SunYat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China conducted a study of 1,000 high school students mapping the link between depression and internet usage. Over nine months they monitored the mental health of the students; 6% of the students admitted to internet addiction.  They found that heavy Internet users were 2.5 times more likely to report depression than light internet users, across the entire group, including the people who did not report depression in the beginning.  Lam says of the study, “The results indicate that people who use the Internet pathologically are most at risk of mental problems and would develop depression when they continue with that behavior.”

Have you noticed a difference in your sense of well being since you started blogging, or spending so much time online? Do these studies make a difference in how much time you hang out on the internet?

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15 Responses

  1. Marlena

    What a timely post. It is Thursday afternoon and I just thought about planning my weekend as I just realised I should not be spending yet another weekend at home in front of my computer! I am making a concious effort to organise a catch up with a couple of long not seen friends and thinking of signing up to dancing classes. As much as work and my beloved blog is important and I am passionate about it, I need to go out there and have at least have two days a week when I do not spend 13 hours straight in front of my laptop or phone screen 🙂
    Thank you for the reminder!

  2. Marie Nielsen

    Got no other words than: SPOT ON!

    It’s really something I’ve been noticing in my own life recently, as I’ve just launched my own blog 2 months ago. I’ve spend way to much time inside during summer either writing my own post (type-delete!!) or reading, surfing and searching all around the web for topics! Where did summer go?!
    I’m highly aware now, and this great post really was the words I needed!
    Thanks 🙂

  3. fufu

    oh sh**,

    that’s the reason I might get depression… I just sit really for hours on that screen and I hate it!!! I really hate it!!!

    Great article!

  4. Mariana

    Much as I hate to admit it, blogging and social media for hours on has not been the healthiest thing. I have had to make sure I get up, walk away from the computer and remember to exercise. It is also way too easy to work crazy hours, with blogging your office never closes!

    Too me longer to realize this then I care to admit. Thank you for the article! Certainly not a sexy part of blogging, but one that should be discussed !

  5. Onianwah

    Oh no, I have always been a bit of a shy person along with having a weird sanguine/melancholic mix which leaves me very moody at times. Truthfully, I can’t remember being like this before I began blogging. I just know that most people say I am very weird at relations with people as I prefer to be quiet than be part of a huge conversation/community of people.

    Lagos, Nigeria

  6. Ana

    Yes. I am Ana and I am an internet addict. I work more than 10 hours at day in front at a computer and yes, sometimes my depression comes to visit me.

    And well, I am a serious case maybe, but, wich job doesn`t offer more than 5 hours of computer and screens this days?

    I am waiting to see how all of this habits are changing our society. What is going to happend tomorrow?


  7. TlvBirdie

    That’s all crystal clear that spending time by computer has a killing influence on our lives, by all aspects and also, only gives a feeling of being “productive” and “social”. Which is a total illusion.
    But, the first paragraph of the article has nothing close to the study mentioned. The first paragraph is talking about comparing yourself to other, more “famous” bloggers, who can be even not from your niche or similar state of mind. Comparing is a crucial mistake, that can ruin your purest blogging intentions and brilliant ideas. That’s what causes your depression feelings regarding blogging.


  8. Lee Benjamin

    Ahhh I spend SO much time on the computer it’s ridiculous. Between working a full-time job from home where I’m on my computer 8 hours a day, running a blog, and launching a business with my husband I feel like my computer is my limb. It helps me when I take actual full days away. I have to shut down sometimes to really feel refreshed the next day!

    -Lee Anne

  9. CT

    I work online for 10 to 12 hours a day. I have an online day job and a bunch of my own blogs and their social accounts to maintain. I’ve started to feel severely down and out lately. I thought it was because of my inability to do what I really want to do in life, and then I found this article. This might just be it.

  10. Maggie A

    Guilty. I spend 16hrs infront of a computer at work then come back only to spend more time on my blog and youtube. When I’m not behind either screen, I’m in the gym or out running where I use my phone to document the work out so that I can keep track of it. #yikes. Here I thought I was balancing out the screen time by working out. I need to get a life lol.

    Maggie A

  11. Grlfashionista

    Wow. This was a really cool post ! I work at home and then on the weekends write my blogs for the week and I try and balance as best I can time spent on and off the computer. It’s so hard to walk away sometimes but when I do it’s actually harder to come back to it! What I find helpful is to make plans with friends at certain times or pre-pay for yoga or whatever sort of workout class making it to where I have to physically leave my house and get out into the world. That and I have a husband who is pretty great to and tends to pull me away when he thinks I need a break!

  12. elena

    you are always SO spot on with your blog posts…and that is why i continually come back and read them all! yep…this is me…although i have been making a conscious effort to plan outings outside my little bubble in front of the computer…summer came & went…and i refuse to have the same thing happen with the holidays…although i have been a blogger for years…it seems to have gotten worse…

    thank you for a very timely piece…and a reminder…to look up from the computer screen and see that there is a life out there waiting to be lived…

  13. Lauren J Parry

    I work online 8 hours a day at my day job, and also have my own personal blog. I have never thought about it before but I can totally see how it can play a toll on your mood. This is a friendly reminder to step away from the computer!

  14. Sheela Goh

    I think the article profiles two separate possible causes of depression for bloggers – one being peer envy (para 1) and the other, social isolation (rest of piece). While the first requires more time to dissect and discuss, social isolation is something I can talk about first-hand now. After 15 years in luxury fashion and lifestyle branding, I went career cold turkey and decided to telecommute to spend more time with my family. I love the flexibility of managing my schedule but I do miss the occasional interaction with like minds. Often, the sensation of being out of the loop left me feeling less than intelligent, lonely and, yes, depressed. Now that I’m blogging again, I’m hoping there will be opportunities for me to get out more 🙂 I’ve started by frequenting social media platforms, participating in conversations and mingling, so to speak. Working from home is a tough gig and I’m still learning to balance things but there’s truly no going back once you’ve made the leap.