Saturday, October 31, 2015

Discovering Hope from Lost Emotions

     According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, depression is often defined as a state of emotion in which an individual feels lost and sad, often dejected for extended periods of time (Merriam-Webster). When we consider a topic such as depression, we will find the internet to contain a plethora of information for learning and researching it deeper than a simple definition. The following will critically analyze two different websites and answer some fundamental questions between them. The first website presented is titled Depression Blog and the second website is a page for depression from the National Institute of Mental Health. This analysis will define key differences in content and credibility between the two websites, which in the end shows that the National Institute of Mental Health is the better choice for researching this particular topic.

Depression Blog

     The purpose of this website is to inform readers about anti-depressant medication, primarily through the use of reader submitted feedback, about the drugs Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, Wellbutrin, and Zoloft. The page also provides readers an avenue to seek help through telephone numbers to the Hope Line, Help Line, and FDA. The website resides on a dot com address and appears to be a personal blog created by Aaron Wall of Oakland, California, who previously experienced depression. Aaron claims he was able to make life changes without the use of anti-depressant drugs, but he wanted to create a place for “real feedback from real people” (Wall). According to the author’s own admissions, he is not a doctor nor is he an expert in the medical or psychological field. He does not provide an easy way to contact him directly. In fact, it took a domain search through the ICANN WHOIS service to reveal the name of the author.

     The website is difficult to navigate due to the sizable amount of drug feedback presented on the home page. The cognitive behavioral therapy link under the Talk Therapy section brings the reader to an unexpected website, WebMD, which presented nothing related to cognitive behavioral therapy information. The website also contains a blocked link to a YouTube video for a Beatles song, “All You Need is Love”. Links to each of the drugs were found in red text at the top and bottom and along the right side of the page, and all appeared to be in working order. Clicking on each of the drug names will take the reader to a page with some basic information and history of the drug, links to the drugs website, as well as a phone number to the FDA. Most of the official drug websites on each drug’s page do not work; seven either lead to blank pages, timed out, not found (Effexor), or directed to a site (Prozac). Only Zoloft has an active website. The reader has the opportunity to leave feedback on each drug’s page, which faces moderation by the website author. The sections under leave drug feedback are not well categorized. Some have identical feedback under all categories of how the drug works, positive feedback, negative feedback and more, depending on the drug page. The author also provides feedback links to some natural alternatives and other health resources which don’t have any real scientific credibility.

     Depression Blog exhibits a clear negative bias toward anti-depressant drugs, both in the comments submitted by majority of readers and from the material presented by the author. Mr. Wall is clearly biased toward natural alternatives instead of the clinically researched and tested drugs. For example, the he presents data in the form of a bar graph titled “Were You Lied Too”, which links to an article published on the Wall Street Journal in January of 2008. The data shows an estimated change of the impression left by a drugs’ effectiveness when drug companies did not publish unfavorable studies. Mr. Wall also believes most people dealing with depression just need an outlet to expend their energies and feelings so he recommends starting a blog as a way to make them feel better. Overall, the website is directed toward readers who also suffer from depression and are seeking feedback from others about anti-depressant drugs they may be taking or consider taking. Ascertaining a creation date is not clear, but readers can estimate it to be sometime in November 2003, based on the earliest feedback from the Lexapro drug page. The last revision looks to be in 2014 when the latest drug feedback was posted. While this website provides broad coverage for user feedback on anti-depressant drugs, it doesn’t provide much information at all about depression or the science behind it.

National Institute of Mental Health

     The depression topic is one of fourteen mental health topics listed on the National Institute of Mental Health website, or NIMH for short. This page serves to provide a broad wealth of knowledge about depression and the current research behind it with unbiased views. The NIMH website is a public institution on a dot gov address created to inform the public about depression and the research behind it, with all of it being supported entirely by taxpayer dollars. Their indicated mission is to use clinical research to better understand and treat mental illness which appears to make this page a legitimate authority in the field as the information is coming directly from studies by doctors and scientists. With a budget exceeding 1.4 billion dollars, the NIMH funds the most out of any other institution in the world for research on mental disorders, according to their website. Because it is funded by the taxpayers, it remains accessible and transparent to the public, from the casual reader and students to even professionals in the medical field.

     The depression page on the NIMH website is categorized into eight, clearly identified sections, including an overall definition and types of depression, causes, signs and symptoms, who is at risk, diagnosis, treatments, living with depression, and clinical trials. The sections are well written and rich with information covering many different aspects of depression and providing the reader with a multitude of topics to explore. An impressive section found on bipolar disorder includes nineteen subsections discussing an enormous amount of detail with the data presented in clear text and a table of symptom analysis. The website also includes recent depression subject matter in the news, publications, and research results along with opportunities to join clinical trials shown on its sidebar. One helpful example of this provides the reader with an archive of training, research, and methodology webinars. Readers will find a wealth of data from the latest news shared through other media outlets.

     The NIMH has made contacting them relatively easy through a contact page offering all of the major forms of communication, including telephone, mailing address, email, and fax. There are also opportunities to receive updates by providing email or following their social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. While the website does not clearly show a creation date or the last revision date, the Director’s Blog listed his recent posts of October 20, 2015, to archives dating six years prior.


     After careful analysis of both websites and considering the depth of the topic, the clear choice for someone interested in researching depression is to utilize the National Institute of Mental Health instead of Depression Blog. The most important reason is the authority of the information that is coming from an impartial source of clinical research performed by doctors and scientists. Depression Blog was created by a medically untrained individual who had experienced depression, and it primarily serves to address anti-depressant drug feedback. Depression Blog leaves substantial gaps in the overall topic of depression and a lasting negative bias against anti-depressant drugs. Additionally the organization of the material presented is more pleasing on the NIMH website, which made it much easier to quickly locate precise areas of interest.

     The best way to get involved on the Depression Blog website is to submit honest feedback about a particular anti-depressant in which they have experienced. On the National Institute of Mental Health website, it is possible to research depression in order to better understand the signs and symptoms. That knowledge gained can be used to guide those suffering in the right direction to seek appropriate help, or to learn more about studies supported by the NIMH. Interested parties may also participate in clinical trials or refer a friend to get involved.


     Suffering from depression is a terrible part of life that some people struggle with on a daily basis. The aforementioned analysis serves to provide those interested in researching the topic of depression with a comprehensive review of two very contrasting websites. This information can be used to form a paper on the topic or to learn ways of getting involved in order to make a difference. The National Institute of Mental Health presents the most accurate and in depth material on the topic while the Depression Blog website provides very little accuracy or authority. Getting involved is a positive way people can help to change depression—from sharing their thoughts on drugs to participating in clinical trials—although some methods will inevitably be more rewarding. Breakthroughs come from real science through active participation in clinical trials and other studies to de-stigmatize the suffrage of depression.


ICANN. (2015). Whois. Retrieved 29 Oct 2015.

Lederer, N. (2013). How to Evaluate a Web Page. Retrieved 25 Oct 2015.

Merriam-Webster. (2015). Retrieved 25 Oct 2015.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2015). Depression. Retrieved 25 Oct 2015.

Wall, A. (2014). Depression Blog. Retrieved 25 Oct 2015.