“Every little thing makes me mad”: self-medicalization of stress and the patterns of taking pharmaceuticals in a digital society





medicalization, self-medicalization, stress, sociology of health, pharmaceuticals , Internet, social media


Patterns of coping with stress and its consequences in the modern society increasingly rely on pharmaceutical drugs. In self-medicalization, implying self-diagnosis of symptoms qualified as a disease which needs to be treated medically, a big role is played by online resources where users can discuss the specifics of various medicines. The purpose of the study is to reveal the features of stress self-medicalization by studying the comments of the users discussing pharmacological treatment of stress. The sample included 13 Internet resources (a total of 762 comments) devoted to the use of medications to handle stress. As a result of inductive and deductive coding of user comments three patterns of medication use were singled out: (1) self-prescribed medication, (2) use of medicines as an additional way to relieve stress, (3) use of prescription medicines. These patterns differ in the level of stress self-medicalization and help to understand the extent to which people affected by this problem are capable of solving this problem by themselves, using only online user comments, as well as to detect the situations where they need a professional medical advice.

Acknowledgements. The study is financed by Russian Foundation for Basic Research under project no. 18-013-00726.

Author Biographies

Victoria I. Dudina, St. Petersburg State University

  • St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
    • Dr. Sci. (Soc.), Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Applied Sociology

Anastasia F. Ruppel, Regional Public Organization of Social Projects for Population's Well-Being (NGO “Stellit”)

  • Regional Public Organization of Social Projects for Population's Well-Being (NGO “Stellit”), St. Petersburg, Russia
    • Master of Sociology, Social Research Project Manager