Chatrooms have fallen out of favor over the last decade, mostly due to misuse and bad media press. While still a great way to get into conversations with likeminded people, there is a tendency for chatrooms to attract unwanted abusers, spammers, "trolls," and just a hectic general discourse that has given chat rooms a bad name.
But there may be some benefit to anxiety chat rooms, provided you know where to find them, how to use them effectively, and when to walk away.
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Understanding Anxiety First
Before you ever set foot inside of a chat room, you should make sure you understand your own anxiety. Not all anxiety is the same. There are different types of disorders, different types of symptoms, and different causes. It's important to get a greater understanding of your own anxiety before you even start participating.
You can explore this website for information about your anxiety symptoms and questions. You should also make sure to receive a free anxiety profile by taking the anxiety test, which will help you understand your anxiety better.
What Anxiety Chat Rooms Are Good For
Every chat room has its own community. This is a community of individuals that are often struggling from or have recovered from anxiety, and want to share their issues with like-minded people. Chatrooms are essentially 24 hour, makeshift support groups with little structure.
For those that really need to talk to others about their anxiety and their symptoms, this can be beneficial:
- You can quickly and easily ask questions to others or share your symptoms or thoughts.
- You can interact with those that understand what you're going through.
- You can develop friendships that can help you gain confidence in your ability to overcome anxiety.
Chat rooms are far more instant than forums and a more personal tool than general web pages, so they represent a fairly instant and social way to deal with your mental health.
What Anxiety Chat Rooms Are NOT Good For
These chatrooms are not without their drawbacks, however. Remember, comments are rarely moderated at all, and that can mean that people can still say hurtful, insensitive, or simply incorrect things with regularity and with no one there to stop them.
That latter point is especially important. At any given time, there may be no one online with any real expertise in anxiety. You may be talking to others that are simply guessing or trying to get information on their own symptoms. That can fuel your anxiety more, not decrease it.
It's also a little too natural to use anxiety chat rooms as a social tool, rather than a recovery tool. Why there is nothing inherently wrong with that, the larger issue is that if you start to associate these chat rooms with stress - even good stress, like realizing you really like a chat room participant romantically - you may experience setbacks with your own anxiety.
How to Make Chatrooms for Anxiety More Useful
The following represents a "Best Practices" for how to be a "good chatter" and make the most of an anxiety chat room. If you follow these tips, you'll be more likely to benefit from these chat rooms and be able to use them in a way that you can find relief.
- Use it For Recovery, Not Fear Confirmation Look at these chat rooms as a place you use to recover from anxiety. Be focused on looking for treatments and coping information. Do not look at it as a way to have others try to confirm your fears. Going to a chat room and saying only "I have this symptom, could I have MS?" will never control anxiety, only confirm it. Keep the mindset that the chatroom is for recovery, not validation.
- Help Others There's a tendency to want to only receive help from others, never to give it. But don't forget that you want to foster a community of support within these chatrooms. The best way to do that is to also try to be as helpful as possible. No matter how much you're struggling, you're bound to find useful strategies and information and you can share that with others.
- Don't Participate in Stressful Activities If anything on the website contributes to further stress, you'll benefit from finding a different chat room. One of the main reasons that chatrooms fell out of favor was how stressful they became because of their anonymity. If there are issues at play that contribute to further stress and anxiety, go somewhere else.
These chat rooms need to be a place of comfort and inclusion - one where people can go to genuinely get the support they need. Because chats are so instant, it's hard to find this support. But there are places you can go to chat with others and benefit in a way that fosters recovery.
Best Anxiety Chat Rooms
Chat rooms are always changing, because chatrooms are a product of the community - not just the software. So while the following represent some of the better anxiety chatrooms out there, at any moment there may be better ones if valuable members sign on and participate.
The following are several anxiety chat rooms along with the anxiety disorder they support best:
http://www.healthfulchat.org (All Anxiety Disorders)
This website offers several chatrooms that are available for every type of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety chatrooms, panic chatrooms, OCD chatrooms, and more. The chat rooms are a little bit busy with people coming in and out and lots of greeters, but those that want to truly participate should find others available to help and discuss various issues.
Unfortunately, the social anxiety support chat has lost favor recently and now doesn't have as many users as it did in the past. But it does appear that this is still a place you can go to discuss social anxiety with others. You simply need to be willing to stick around for a while and make sure that there are people you can talk to.
This chatroom isn't enormous, but it does have a fairly decent community of around 10 to 40 people online at any given time, and the website itself is dedicated specifically to anxiety so those that are online are likely to be likeminded individuals. It can be a bit slow, but still a healthy place to go for your anxiety needs.
Chatrooms Have Been Closing
For those that have wanted to take advantage of an anxiety chatroom for a while, the unfortunate news is that most are closing. Yahoo chat rooms have been closed forever, as have AOL chat rooms - both of which were often bustling with thousands of users at a time.
Right now, chat rooms are infrequently used and even harder to find. They have been replaced not only by forums, but also by Twitter where people can interact with others without requiring a chatroom login. But if you do happen to find one, they can still provide you with some help as described above.
In the meantime, make sure you're focusing your life on how to cure your anxiety. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test now to learn more about your anxiety and find out effective ways to treat it.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.