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Gambling, Gaming & Technology Use Community of Interest

The Gambling, Gaming & Technology Use Community of Interest brings together addiction and mental health service providers, researchers and subject matter experts in the fields of gambling, technology/Internet use and video gaming to collaborate and share knowledge on emerging trends and clinical best practices.

Research around technology use amongst individuals suffering from bipolar disorder (BPD) is still an emerging area of study. I recently came across a study that looked at how individuals with BPD use technology and how they perceive its impacts on their mental health.

Some interesting points around both the positive and negative effects of technology use in this population were brought up. For example the authors found that technology use worsened or even “triggered” symptoms of mania or depression in some participants, while also acting as a supportive tool for others. For example, a participant in the study cited that one of their triggers for depressive episodes was seeing their friends on social media and noticing how accomplished they were. On the other hand, another participant reported that social media helped them connect with other people with similar lived experiences with BPD. The participant also noted that this online community helped to create a supportive environment.  

The authors suggest that technology use for the participants in the study was a double-edged sword; supportive for some and harmful for others.

I was wondering what your experiences have been working with individuals with BPD/ other severe mental illness and technology use?

The double-edged sword: A mixed methods study of the interplay between bipolar disorder and technology use (

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I haven't had experience with BPD specifically, but I can definitely appreciate the double-aged nature with the populations I have worked with.

Client's that I've had with ASD, have had difficulties with technology as part of their diagnoses (e.g., restricted and repetitive behaviours) but have also found it as a way to mitigate some social communication deficits they may have had (e.g., more time to think and respond over technology than face to face).  Some limited inpatient experience I've had, technology was a huge source of leisure, but could also trigger symptoms (e.g., paranoid beliefs/delusions). In both these populations, there was a balance that was important.

I think more broadly, what I take away is that how something is being used is more important than it's use as a broad classification. If we can use technology in ways that focus and prioritize the beneficial aspects (such as connecting with those that are like-minded or have similar interests) and minimize our use for those that cause harm (such as exasperating symptoms), we can get the best of both worlds. I think that requires insight and reflection into which ways we use technology are beneficial/harmful and act accordingly.

Those are some excellent points Mahfuz. I would definitely agree that we need to leverage technology to maximize benefit for our clientele while also minimizing those aspects of technology that are harmful. I think it is also important to take into consideration individual differences, and level of functioning when deciding how to support our clients with their technology use.  

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