Contemporary epidemiology of mental health

Healthy norms, trauma, contagion, psychiatrisation, prevalence inflation hypothesis

April 3, 2024 — April 3, 2024

incentive mechanisms
Figure 1

Modern developments in public mental health. We are all trapped in here with each other, and sometimes we feel bad about it. How do we calibrate the level of discourse around mental health? See also depression, trauma

1 De-shaming mental health

2 Prevalence inflation hypothesis

Dark placebos. Is too much mental health messaging leading to actual increased levels of mental illness? (Foulkes and Andrews 2023)

3 Social media

Do screens drive us crazy?

4 Munchausen syndrome

At the extreme end of mental health contagion is the mental illness where you claim to have other (possibly mental) illnesses. Notes on manufacturing debilities, who does it.

Stuart Ritchie on Munchausen’s

[…]there is definitely a new genre of social media account which the owner uses to provide regular updates on what’s often a long list of medical conditions. They post photos of medical equipment such as feeding tubes, and seem to be take a suspicious amount of pleasure in the trials and tribulations of having a long-term medical condition.

Just to be completely clear, I’m not arguing that disability advocates who discuss their conditions and raise awareness on social media are suffering from Munchausen’s. But clearly, in some cases, the internet can become a crucial crutch for a minority who have a tendency to exaggerate (or even fake) symptoms. Indeed, thinking of the often-perverse dynamics of who gets attention on social media, one could hardly imagine this not being the case.

What if people don’t just invent medical symptoms to get attention—what if they feign oppression, too?

5 Incoming

Pundits worrying about recreational mental illness:

6 References

Abdurrachid, Nuzhat, and João Gama Marques. 2022. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP): A Review Regarding Perpetrators of Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (FDIA).” CNS Spectrums 27 (1): 16–26.
Adrian, Molly, Michele S. Berk, Kathryn Korslund, Kathryn Whitlock, Elizabeth McCauley, and Marsha Linehan. 2018. Parental Validation and Invalidation Predict Adolescent Self-Harm.” Professional Psychology, Research and Practice 49 (4): 274–81.
Boers, Elroy, Mohammad H. Afzali, and Patricia Conrod. 2019. Temporal Associations of Screen Time and Anxiety Symptoms Among Adolescents.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, November, 0706743719885486.
El Habbal Jadayel, Rola, Karim Medlej, and Jinan Jadayel. 2018. “Mental Disorders: A Glamorous Attraction on Social Media?” International Journal of Teaching & Education 7 (January): 465–76.
Foulkes, Lucy, and Jack L. Andrews. 2023. Are Mental Health Awareness Efforts Contributing to the Rise in Reported Mental Health Problems? A Call to Test the Prevalence Inflation Hypothesis.” New Ideas in Psychology 69 (April): 101010.
Giedinghagen, Andrea. 2023. The tic in TikTok and (where) all systems go: Mass social media induced illness and Munchausen’s by internet as explanatory models for social media associated abnormal illness behavior.” Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 28 (1): 270–78.
Hausteiner-Wiehle, Constanze, and Sven Hungerer. 2020. Factitious Disorders in Everyday Clinical Practice.” Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 117 (26): 452–59.
Karmakar, Monita. 2015. Viewing Patterns and Addiction to Television among Adults Who Self-Identify as Binge-Watchers.” In. APHA.
Khalaf, Abderrahman M, Abdullah A Alubied, Ahmed M Khalaf, and Abdallah A Rifaey. n.d. The Impact of Social Media on the Mental Health of Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review.” Cureus 15 (8): e42990.
Müller-Vahl, Kirsten R, Anna Pisarenko, Ewgeni Jakubovski, and Carolin Fremer. 2021. Stop That! It’s Not Tourette’s but a New Type of Mass Sociogenic Illness.” Brain, no. awab316 (August).
Ormerod, Paul, and Greg Wiltshire. 2009. ‘Binge’ Drinking in the UK: A Social Network Phenomenon.” Mind & Society 8 (2): 135–52.
Pulman, Andy, and Jacqui Taylor. 2012. Munchausen by Internet: Current Research and Future Directions.” Journal of Medical Internet Research 14 (4): e115.
Sweeney, Angela, Beth Filson, Angela Kennedy, Lucie Collinson, and Steve Gillard. 2018. A Paradigm Shift: Relationships in Trauma-Informed Mental Health Services.” BJPsych Advances 24 (5): 319–33.