February 10, 2010

Suffering from MEAD?

Category: Humor,Psychiatry — Biella @ 4:30 am

If I told you that you suffer from MEAD you might think (if you are an anthropologist like me) that you suffer from an obsession with a plump anthropologist of said name who popularized the discipline bringing home tales of Samoan teenagers who did not seem to suffer from the angst and anxiety of their American counterpart. Or you might think MASSIVE EMAIL ANXIETY DISORDER, which is a DSM diagnosis I invented last week and thus have minimized the work that the American Psychiatric Association will have to put into updating their DSM (you’re welcome).

So I have penned down its major characteristics and effects so that you too can identify with some other inner pathology that might mark your daily life and being (you’re welcome)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association currently defines Massive Email Anxiety Disorder (MEAD) disorder in the following way.

Please note that while this definition of MEAD is the most definitive and clearly produced to date, there are several potential problems with this definition that will hopefully be addressed by the task forces, editors, and research coordinators of the association as time progresses.

The Current DSM-IV Definition (Abridged):

A. A persistent fear of one or more ‘emails situations’ in which an author of an email worries about the status of a sent email. The individual fears that the tone or content of a message was misinterpreted or that an email never arrived to its correct destination. Alternatively, they worry excessively about why they have not received a response.

B. Exposure to the feared situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a situationally bound or situationally pre-disposed Panic Attack.

C. The person recognizes that this fear is unreasonable or excessive.

D. The feared situations are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety and distress. Alternatively the person suffering from MEAD shuffles over to their partner or office-mate to talk (obsessively) about the nature and possible effect of the email, sometimes for hours, sometimes even for days.

E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in writing email, which interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.

F. In individuals under age 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months.

G. The fear or avoidance is not due to direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., drugs, medications) or a general medical condition not better accounted for by another mental disorder.

Problems with the DSM Definition of Massive Email Anxiety Disorder

While this definition is clearly the most definitive and precise official definition produced so far, “Massive Email Anxiety Disorder” has only been officially recognized since 2020, and the problem did not become adequately explained until the 2015 version of the DSM. Thus, the definition of MEAD disorder is becoming clearer and more precise with each edition.

Written in “honor” of current revisions for the DSM, expected to be published in 2013


  1. Aren’t you worried about posting this and exposing your own personal anxieties to the world? Is worrying about posting a blog entry an example of BLEAD (BLogging about Email Anxiety Disorder)?

    Comment by micah — February 10, 2010 @ 6:03 am

  2. [...] Suffering from MEAD? (gabriellacoleman.org) [...]

    Pingback by Shifts Ahead for Mental Diagnoses « The Mental Health Minute — February 10, 2010 @ 7:05 am

  3. 1536 unread in the last 2 weeks, 4210 unread in the last month, just around 250k unread since 1996 (i clear that pool sometimes) . I think there are people out there that have generalized anxiety about email…. but… I don’t think they should have it, and suspect that it is just allowing greater anxieties to find a focus.

    Comment by jeremy — February 10, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  4. [...] more: Interprete Suffering from MEAD? Share and [...]

    Pingback by Interprete Suffering from MEAD? | Health News — February 10, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  5. i don’t think people really suffer great anxieties over it though many have faced odd and tough moments with email.

    i used to be pretty militant about replying withing 3 days and then i got this job and well that went out the window. i try to reply within a week and think that is pretty good and no longer wonder why i don’t receive a reply. i figure they are busy or forgot, which is easy to do.

    i was inspired to write this after i did receive some Good News and was convinced that i was sent my email by mistake (the email was sent to a handful of folks and my name was not addressed). i was a bit anxious for a few days until i got the treeware letter. that has nothing to do with email though :-) just some twisted thinking i inherited from my mom (she used to treat bills as “debt” for example)

    Comment by Biella — February 10, 2010 @ 11:38 am

  6. [...] rest is here: Interprete Suffering from MEAD? Share and [...]

    Pingback by Interprete Suffering from MEAD? | Health News — February 10, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

  7. Did you see this article on Email Apnea?

    Comment by James — February 11, 2010 @ 12:27 am

  8. James,

    No I have not seen it, thanks for passing along!!

    Comment by Biella — February 11, 2010 @ 4:50 am

  9. Jeremy,
    Like you, I let it pile and feel indifferent…. but then I feel a little guilty about not really caring. So what does that make me, a chronic BIMEADy sufferer (Bipolar Indifference to MEAD)? What’s the treatment for that?

    Comment by rocio — February 11, 2010 @ 7:25 am

  10. I would prefer to quell MEAD with this stuff :)

    Comment by Kevin Mark — February 12, 2010 @ 3:39 am

  11. [...] Suffering from MEAD? (gabriellacoleman.org) [...]

    Pingback by How To Overcome Panic Attacks | What's It Take Blog — February 18, 2010 @ 12:27 am

  12. Hey, Gabriella! Have you written an article about MEAD? Would you please send me the link to it? I’d like to use your theory in my digital communication course’s final project. Thank you in advance ;)

    Comment by Larissa — December 7, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

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