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An exploratory analysis of the relationship of posting in peer online support forums and trait mood in bipolar disorder

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Mental health (MH) peer online forums offer robust support where internet access is common, but healthcare is not, e.g., in low- and middle-income countries, rural areas, during pandemics. Despite their widespread use, little is known about when people post in such forums. The discussion platform Reddit hosts forums (subreddits) for MH and non-MH topics. This exploratory study investigated how trait mood of Reddit users with a BD diagnosis who posted in MH subreddits differs from those who only posted in non-MH subreddits.
A logistic regression distinguished Reddit users with a self-reported BD diagnosis who did (n=10,662) vs. did not (n=3,790) post in MH subreddits. Predictors were anxiety, sadness, anger, and 1st person singular pronoun use, measured from all of users’ non-MH subreddit posts via the LIWC text analysis tool, controlling for age, gender, active days, mean #posts/day.
The model was significant with 6.7% explained variance and 77.1% accuracy. MH subreddit posters were more likely female and exhibited more positive emotions, anxiety and sadness. No other variables were associated with MH subreddit posters.
Our findings indicate that MH forums may reflect the views of people who experience more negative mood (outside of MH subreddits) compared to people who do not post in MH subreddits. This warrants to caution potential MH forum users that these spaces may overemphasise the difficulties of living with a MH condition and underrepresent those living relatively well.

Event (Conference)

TitleBABCP 50th Annual Conference
LocationImperial College
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Degree of recognitionInternational event