Photo credit: Shantanu Kumar
ChatGPT is not a living mind, let alone a therapist. It is, however, proving to be an immensely useful online assistant for people across the world. Little wonder that professionals and others are finding ways to apply its powers of information gathering and synthesis to the challenge of living with depression. This article offers one emotion expert’s tips on how ChatGPT and related technology might be able to shoulder a bit of that burden.
Let’s state one thing clearly at the outset: screens can be hard on our minds. Here at Allies, we’re very aware of the serious and mounting evidence of a correlation between excessive screen time and various mental and emotional conditions, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. Many online platforms (think social media) are designed to keep us staring at them hour after hour, day after day. Social isolation and reduced physical activity are just two of the hazards of doing so.
With that in mind, however, it’s encouraging to see new online tools applied to efforts to help those suffering with mental and emotional challenges. Enter Dr. Alex Boyes, a blogger and popular writer about emotions (her book The Anxiety Toolkit was a bestseller). Boyes has been experimenting with ChatGPT, and chatbots generally, for years. In this column, she shares ten neat ideas for applying this revolutionary technology to struggles with depression.
To be clear, these suggestions are not about “curing” depression, or even drastically reducing its effects on our wellbeing. They’re about finding small but creative ways to get an edge on depression by letting artificial intelligence do what it does best—synthesize ideas, condense and summarize information, reframe problems, and organize tasks. Boyes (although she states that she is not depressed) describes the help ChatGPT has given her in tasks that might otherwise feel overwhelming, like simplifying concepts for her child’s home schooling, and planning a household cleaning schedule.
“A chatbot doesn’t think in the way humans do—and that can be a good thing,” she writes. “Even when it gives you an unhelpful answer, that answer may help you see the problem you’re trying to solve in a new way.” And being stuck or overwhelmed, as those who’ve experienced depression know all too well, often comes with the territory.
Have a look at her 10 tips in the article below. If you use ChatGPT, we hope you’ll find them stimulating.
P.S. After writing this post, I went to ChatGPT itself and asked if it could be used to help those suffering from depression. Here’s part of its answer:
“ChatGPT can potentially be used as a tool to provide support and information to individuals suffering from depression, but it is not a substitute for professional medical or therapeutic intervention… While ChatGPT can generate empathetic responses, it lacks true emotional understanding and empathy. Real human connection and support from trained professionals are essential for individuals with depression.”