Social media and online forums

Social media has changed the way we communicate our thoughts and emotions allowing us to express them to a wider audience especially in forums where you meet fellow sufferers of chronic UTI and for many it has allowed them to finally be able to talk openly about what they are struggling with, seek support and be part of a community.

However, if you are struggling with anxiety and depression, please consider your usage of social media and how it affects you. There are conflicting studies concerning the benefit of time spent in social media online groups. For some it has benefitted, for others it has had a negative impact particularly if their own usage for posting is often negative. The following issues have been noted in research studies of patients with anxiety and their usage of social media:

  • Spending more than one hour daily at social media sites
  • Checking Facebook whenever possible
  • Over-sharing and reporting of all aspects of life however mundane
  • Hearing from friends and family that too much time is spent on the social networking sites
  • Interference with work, higher education performance or offline social life
  • Overreliance on social media to fulfil social needs
  • Withdrawal symptoms if attempting to cut down on the time spent on social media
  • Escapism. If time is used on the social media to avoid conflicts or problems that are occurring in real life. Users have acknowledged this because when ‘down’, they turn to Facebook or another social media site to feel better
  • Losing sleep to go on Facebook or other sites

To help, these social media management tips may be of use:

  • Track your time online – The simplest way to ensure you aren’t spending too much time in any one place is to monitor it. Use a stopwatch and set a limit. When time is up, log out, regardless of what’s left. There is always tomorrow.
  • Remember the telephone – a call to a friend works just as well as a Facebook message, and it is real human interaction, something we are losing touch with.
  • Go outside – get away from your access to the network. Get some sunshine, chances are you need it.
  • Prioritize – Use these tools only when your work has been done, or during down time.
  • A social media fast – The answer to your emotional health issues is not always provided by social media. One of the best things you can do is take a break from social media altogether. Social media fasts have been found to have many benefits, including improved sleep, better self-control, and increased time for real-life interactions with friends and family. Notably, each of these benefits can also reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Remove apps – You don’t really need Facebook on your phone. Nothing on there can be that important. Limit the distractions throughout the day.
  • Spend more time with close friends and family – You aren’t the only one who suffers when you spend countless hours on social media. Your family and friends don’t see you.

Please always seek professional counselling. You shouldn’t wait to get the help you need. None of this necessarily means that you need to quit social media forever. But it’s well worth considering which steps you might need to take to improve your usage of online media.


In traditional acupuncture every patient is unique, and this means that the practitioners will be looking and listening very carefully to everything that the patient says to establish a diagnosis and find the specific keys to unlocking the patterns of the symptoms the patient is suffering. They will aim to identify the imbalances which cause the symptoms of anxiety or depression, not just treat the symptoms themselves. This whole ‘package’ – taking the patient’s individual story seriously and giving them time to tell it has been found to be effective. Acupuncture is designed to be an immediate treatment.

While not every acupuncture session provides complete and full relief right away, as soon as a patient leaves the acupuncturist (and in some cases the next morning), much of the anxiety can be diminished.

If you want to find an acupuncturist in your home country, the associations below have online search options.

The British Acupuncture Council

The American Society of Acupuncturists

The European Traditional Chinese Medicine Association

The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association

Counselling and psychologists

Experts in helping people cope with the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that accompany chronic pain, anxiety, stress or illness. When working with a psychologist or counsellor, you can expect to discuss your physical and emotional health.

Having a comprehensive understanding of your concerns will help them begin to develop a treatment plan. It sometimes can mean unlocking powerful emotions that may cause upset but often the release of emotions can provide a release especially in situations where words and thoughts have been held back for years.

Treatment plans are designed for you as the patient and not simply an “off the shelf” package. The plan often involves teaching relaxation techniques, changing old beliefs, building new coping skills and addressing any anxiety or depression that may accompany your pain or illness.

One way to do this is by helping you learn to challenge any unhelpful thoughts you have. A psychologist can help you develop new ways to think about problems and to find solutions. In some cases, distracting yourself is helpful.

Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy or CBT is one such approach. This is a range of talking therapies based on the theory that thoughts, feelings, what we do and how our body feels are all connected.  If we change one of these, we can alter the others.

When people feel worried or distressed we often fall into patterns of thinking and responding which can worsen how we feel. CBT works to help us notice and change problematic thinking styles or behaviour patterns so we can feel better. CBT has lots of strategies that can help you in the here and now.

In other cases, a psychologist can help you develop new ways to think about your infection. Studies have found that some psychotherapy can be as effective as surgery for relieving chronic pain because psychological treatments for pain can alter how your brain processes pain sensations.

A psychologist can and should also help you make lifestyle changes that will allow you to continue participating in work and recreational activities. And because stress and anxiety often contributes to insomnia, a psychologist may also help you learn new ways to sleep better.

If you want to find a psychologist or counsellor in your home country, the associations below have online search options.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy 

The Association for Counselling and Therapy Online

The National Counselling Society

The European Association for Counselling

Find a Therapist in the US and Canada

The Australian Psychology Society

Australia Counselling


Often described as the 21st century Prozac, Mindfulness is a technique you can learn. You will make a special effort to notice what’s happening in the present moment (in your mind, body and surroundings) and that includes any difficult thoughts you may be experiencing. It has roots in Buddhism and meditation, but you don’t have to be spiritual, or have any particular beliefs, to try it.

It aims to help you:

  • become more self-aware
  • feel calmer and less stressed
  • feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
  • cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
  • be kinder towards yourself

Many people find practising mindfulness helps them manage their day-to-day wellbeing, but it doesn’t always work for everyone. It is a skill that has to be learnt and is more of a general tool.  If you have a specific, difficult issue you need to address then it may be better to resolve this using a more focused treatment such as counselling.

There are a number of online resources available as well as Mindfulness apps available for download.  This guided meditation produced by Your Pace Yoga was created to help those suffering from pelvic pain and focuses on your breathing to help calm the nervous system.