Are Memes Good for Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Meme Therapy

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Are Memes Good For Mental Health? Clear Benefits Of Memes

From viral sensations to relatable humor, memes dominate the online world. But are memes good for mental health or are they detrimental? Learn the benefits of memes this World Mental Healthy day 2023!

Can memes really make us feel better mentally? Surprisingly, yes! Memes about depression can be a source of comfort and awareness, offering support to those who need it. Let’s find out how!

Are memes good for your mental health
Are Memes Good For Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Meme Therapy

Memes: Making the internet fun

  • Distracted boyfriend
  • Success kid
  • Shut up and take my money
  • Sad Keanu
  • Scumbag Steve
  • Hide the pain Harold
  • Change my mind
  • Drakeposting

You know the names. You know the images. You know the format. Memes are everywhere – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, 9Gag or Reddit. You name it, it’s there. You can’t avoid it. You can’t downvote it. You can only enjoy it and laugh at these mostly funny captioned images that ridicule common human behavior patterns.

The term ‘meme’, derived from the Greek word ‘mimema’, was coined by biologist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene (1976). The term is a unit of cultural information that spreads through imitation.

The term was developed by Dawkins as a cultural version of biological genes. Just as genes carry biological properties from one living being to another, memes transfer cultural information in society.  

Related: Negative Effects Of Instagram On Mental Health: 7 Ways Instagram Ruins Lives

A meme can be about anything, from trending topics, politics, relationships and social issues to mental health. Fun-loving people use memes as a humorous way to express themselves, and their experiences & emotions. Hence, it’s no surprise that mental health is a popular topic for memes that millions of people from around the world relate to.

But are these dark memes good for mental health conditions or damaging? And are there any benefits of memes for someone dealing with mental illness? Let’s find out their impact this World Mental Health Day 2023

How are memes beneficial
Are Memes Good For Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Meme Therapy

Are memes good for mental health? Science says, yes!

Did you know that if you search Google for “depression memes” you will find over 350,000,000 results? 

While most memes are funny and entertaining, mental health related memes, such as the one about depression, loneliness and suicide can be downright distressing and damaging for most.

However, researchers have observed that depression memes are good for you and actually be beneficial for people experiencing depression. Looking at memes about their mental illness can not only make them laugh, but it can also help them express their difficult emotions & intrusive thoughts and spread awareness about mental health.

Related: 30 Shocking Facts About Mental Health That Can Change How You See Mental Illness

But are memes good for your mental health? Studies suggest that people with depression may use such memes as an effective coping mechanism. And that is one of the most impressive benefits of memes.

Generally, depression memes are widely shared as people with depression feel that these memes help them in expressing their negative and difficult emotions that are hard to express in words.

However, these depression memes may require special consideration and attention and should be interacted with care and caution. Regardless, these memes are undoubtedly humorous and can make people with mental conditions laugh, even though the memes themselves may be negative or dark.

According to a 2022 study, “humorous depression memes may be beneficial for individuals in case adaptive emotion regulation strategies are used.” 

can memes benefit mental wellness?
Are Memes Good For Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Meme Therapy

Researchers from a 2020 study also found that the perception of relatability, humor, shareability & mood improving potential of such depression memes are typically “all greater amongst individuals with symptoms of depression.”

The researchers explain that “Despite their negative orientation, internet memes related to depression may be beneficial for individuals experiencing consistent symptoms.” By adding a humorous spin on such a complex, negative experience, memes can help people better cope with their symptoms through –

  • Better expression of emotions
  • Emotion regulation strategies
  • Peer-support through affiliation with others having similar symptoms

But there are more benefits of memes. Studies have even found that internet memes can also serve as a coping mechanism for individuals experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety, especially related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Related: Do You Have Crippling Depression? Here Are The Signs You Should Know About

How are memes beneficial?

Experts have observed that positive and humorous memes on depression and other mental health conditions can have a significant positive impact on people. It can help improve mood, increase emotion regulation and reduce negative emotions.

Researchers have found that humor plays a crucial role in physical and mental well-being. Further studies reveal that humor and laughter can be extremely effective treating people with severe mental illness. Humor or laughter is an easy-to-use, inexpensive, natural therapeutic modality that could be used within different therapeutic settings,” add the researchers. Hence, the benefits of memes extend even into therapy.

Author, therapist and educator Shainna Ali Ph.D., LMHC, NCC believes that memes can be used as a “resource” in therapy and counseling as it can help the patient to better explain themselves and the therapist to better understand the patient’s experience. “After bringing this up with colleagues and individuals who are in counseling, I began to notice that memes could have more mental wellness value than we think,” adds Shainna.

mental health benefits of memes
Are Memes Good For Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Meme Therapy

Individuals who are depressed tend to interpret and emotionally respond to depression memes differently from people without any depressive symptoms. In fact, depressed people prefer to interact more with memes which are associated with their mental health experiences.

As a depressed person may have different emotional regulation capabilities and emotional responses, they use humor to cope with their condition. And memes help in facilitating this process. Undoubtedly, there are several mental health benefits of memes.

Related: 5 Major Signs Of Mental Health Issues In Men

Can memes benefit mental wellness?

While there are several benefits of memes, there can also be some negative impact of memes on mental health as these memes trivialize and make fun of serious mental health conditions using strong and offensive language. Then how can memes be beneficial for your psychological health? 

Funny memes, even about depression can be helpful when adaptive emotion regulation strategies are used by the person with depression while interacting with memes.

As long as the memes are funny and relatable, these captioned photos can convey certain harsh truths about mental illness that we usually don’t talk about. Expressing our struggles in a funny way can help us laugh at ourselves and take life a little lightly, instead of feeling burdened all the time.

Moreover, today memes have become a modern form of language that allows us to express ourselves openly and honestly without being afraid of being stigmatized. It helps us talk about how we feel due to our mental illness and how uncomfortable it can be to talk about such issues with others. Memes can get the message across in an instant.

It helps others understand our emotional suffering and paves the way for further open and honest discussion on mental health. Memes can help to destigmatize mental illness and make people with mental health conditions develop a sense of belonging and community.

health benefits of memes
Are Memes Good For Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Meme Therapy

Related: What Your Instagram Reveals About Your Personality, According To Science

Memes can provide a quick escape and relief from stress, anxiety and depression we experience in daily life. According to a study conducted by The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), internet memes can help to boost mood and positive emotions.

This can lead to increased self-esteem and confidence in one’s ability to cope with life challenges, especially during the pandemic. The researchers also found that people who view memes frequently experienced lower levels of stress and anxiety.

“This research shows that memes, particularly those that relate to a highly stressful context, may help support efforts to cope with the stressor,” explain the researchers. Hence, evidence shows that there are a number of benefits of memes and these can actually improve our mental and emotional well-being. 

Meme your way to mental well-being

Funny memes can actually help someone with depression to gain a different perspective, take their complex challenges lightly and better cope with negative thoughts & emotions. Memes can also boost their mood and can also be used as an effective tool in therapy.

Although experts believe that more research may be needed, there is no doubt that there are several mental health benefits of memes that can empower us to better deal with our psychological conditions and issues.

How are memes beneficial?
Are Memes Good For Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Meme Therapy

However, scrolling through social media and going through an unending array of memes for hours can be damaging to your mental and physical health. So be careful and cautious while using social media and memes, especially when you are struggling from mental illness. 

Related: 8 Signs You Need To Stay Away From Social Media

If you are unable to deal with the symptoms of depression or any other mental health condition, make sure to consult a mental health professional or a therapist.

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Are Memes Good For Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Memes
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Are Memes Good For Mental Health? A Closer Look At The Benefits Of Meme Therapy

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