- The Link Between Social Media and Depression
- The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
- Perceived Isolation
- Negative Self-Esteem
- Sleep Deprivation
- Social Media and Depression Studies
- Social Media and Teenage Mental Health
- Risk of Cyberbullying
- How to Minimize the Negative Effects of Social Media
- Tips for Parents
- Getting Help for Depression
- The Social Dilemma: Social Media and Your Mental Health
- Distract Yourself From the Distraction
- Set a Good Example
- How your social media habits may contribute to depression — and 4 ways to fix it
- Does social media cause depression?
- Why social media may contribute to depression
- How to minimize the negative mental health effects of social media
- The bottom line
- Social Media And Depression: What’s The Link?
- Defining depression
- What are the facts?
- How can systems meant to bring us closer to friends and family be bad for our mental health?
- How to use social media safely
- Finding help for depression
The Link Between Social Media and Depression
Social media is a familiar part of modern life. Some examples of popular social media include , Instagram, Snapchat, , Spotify, Tumblr, WhatsApp, , , Skype, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Myspace, Nextdoor, Vine and Meetup, to name a few.
These platforms offer users the ability to create accounts or avatars (online characters of themselves) and participate in these active online communities.
While social media is not new, more people are starting to talk about the link between social media and depression.
While some social media platforms are extremely positive for members of the community, many social platforms are starting to be associated with rising mental health conditions including depression.
Recent research on depression and social media suggests that adolescents and teenagers, who generally use social media more than the population at large, are particularly vulnerable to developing mental health conditions.
The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
What are the impacts of social media use on mental health? According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2018, adults most often use (73%) and (68%). Additionally, over 60% of adults visit (74%), Snapchat (63%) and Instagram (60%) at least once per day. These statistics are staggering and suggest that the time spent on social media websites in the United States is tremendous.
Unfortunately, spending so much time on social media (or even a little time, depending on the content) can have extremely negative effects on mental health.
Overusing social media has been associated with various mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, low self-esteem and even sleep deprivation.
Research on the impacts of social media on the brain has led to some scientific insights on these mental health conditions.
In recent years, more published studies have established a direct link between social media use and depression. Depression can be caused by many factors, including excessive use of social media. It is ly that depression can also lead to increased social media use as well. Some tell-tale signs that an individual may be experiencing social media depression include:
- No longer seeking pleasure in activities an individual used to enjoy, and instead deferring to social media
- Increased sleep disturbances including lethargy from staying up too late on social websites
- Feeling decreased self-esteem after going on social media
- Having trouble concentrating or performing everyday tasks
- Using social media to escape an individual’s reality
depression, several studies have linked anxiety to social media use. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), social media anxiety disorder is a recognized mental health condition.
This disorder is characterized by severe anxiety caused by not being able to check or have access to one’s social media accounts.
Some symptoms of social media anxiety disorder are very similar to addiction and include:
- Increasing social media use has a negative impact on relationships with others
- Dishonesty about how much time an individual spends on social media accounts
- Withdrawing from loved ones in order to spend more time on social media
- Not being able to stop using social media despite the strong desire to do so
- Poor performance in work or school as a result of too much social media use
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms after an individual loses access or cannot check their social media accounts
- Spending an excessive amount of time on social media accounts per day (6 or more hours)
- Only feeling validated when your social media accounts have been updated
Does social media create isolation? A 2016 study showed that adults who spend more than two hours per day on social media platforms were twice as ly to feel socially isolated than their counterparts who spent half an hour or less online per day.
In a 2017 study on social media use, individuals also reported feeling more socially isolated despite being virtually connected. Individuals who visited social media sites nearly 60 times per week or more, were three times more ly to feel socially isolated than their counterparts who visited these websites less than nine times per week.
However, current research has not determined causation. We don’t yet know if social media directly creates isolation, or if feeling isolated causes an individual to increasingly use social media. One thing is clear, that using social media in excess can make individuals feel lonely.
Social media and self-esteem is another hot topic in social media research. In a study conducted in 2018, there was a negative association between self-esteem and more time spent on for males, but not for females. The researchers also found that females with lower self-esteem tended to spend more time on comparing themselves to their peers.
These results indicate the complexities and many variables associated with social media research and determining if social media has an effect on self-esteem.
An association between social media use and sleep disturbances was found in a 2016 study of adults in the United States.
In young adults ages 19-32, there was a strong correlation between 60 minutes of social media use per day and medium to high levels of sleep disturbances. Again, this study did not address causation — e.g.
whether social media use affects sleep directly or whether sleep disturbances lead to greater amounts of time spent on social media outlets.
Social Media and Depression Studies
Linking social media and depression has been an evolution. In a study conducted in 2013, college-aged students were asked about their use and depression. The majority of study participants were female (58%) and Caucasian American (91%). This study concluded that there was no direct link between social media use and moderate or severe (clinical depression).
In a 2016 study, over 1,700 adults were surveyed about their social media use and depression. A majority of the study participants were Caucasian Americans (57.5%) and half were women (50.3%).
When accounting for all other variables, a correlation was found between the amount of time spent on social media and increased odds of developing depression.
Thus, from this study, it would appear that social media can cause depression in adults.
Finally, a more recent study conducted in 2018 looked at college-aged students from the University of Pennsylvania. In this study, a direct link was found for the first time between increased social media use and depression/loneliness.
The researchers used a different approach to come to these conclusions by using a control group versus a group of students that were forced to limit their time on social media to less than a half hour per day.
The study found that the individuals who spent less time using social media were less lonely and depressed compared to their counterparts who spent more time on social media.
Thus, depending on the study, the methods of questioning used by researchers and the characteristics of study participants (age, sex, ethnicity, etc.), there may be different results. This is not to say that one study is more or less true over another. As social media use continues to grow and evolve, even more definitive research will ly be conducted.
Social Media and Teenage Mental Health
In a recent survey, the most common social media platforms used by teenagers include (85%), Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%), compared to their adult counterparts who mostly use and .
Other striking statistics about teen social media use include that:
- 95% of teenagers have access to a smartphone
- 41% of teens report constantly being online or on a social media platform
- About one-third of surveyed teens think that social media has a positive impact on their lives
- 45% of surveyed teens think social media has neither a positive nor negative impact
- Nearly one-quarter of surveyed teens think that social media has a negative impact on their lives
In most of the studies involving social media use and adolescent depression, similar patterns emerge as in studies involving adults. Just as adults can experience depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation and loneliness from overuse of social media, adolescents can experience the same conditions as well
Risk of Cyberbullying
One frightening reality of teen social media use is the risk of cyberbullying on social media. Both adults and adolescents can be affected by cyberbullying. Adolescents that find that social media has a negative impact on their lives report the following reasons:
- Cyberbullying and rumors (27% of surveyed teenagers)
- Decreased person-to-person interactions and meaningful relationships (17%)
- Provides a “fake” or unrealistic view of other people’s lives (15%)
- Causes distracting and addictive behavioral patterns (14%)
- Leads to peer pressure (12%)
- Leads to the development of mental health problems (4%)
- Causes unnecessary drama (3%)
How to Minimize the Negative Effects of Social Media
Parents, adolescents, teenagers and other adults all have choices when it comes to how social media impacts their lives. Simple behavioral changes, creation of new habits and various other factors can help individuals decrease the negative effects of social media use.
While it may not be easy at first, studies have shown sound evidence that spending less time on social media improves relationships with others, lessens depression/loneliness and helps people become more in tune with themselves and their environment, rather than in a virtual world.
Tips for Parents
For parents and others who care for children and adolescents, there are mental health tips and information to keep them safe, happy and healthy. Some tips on mental health include:
- Share available research: Share research and information you find with your children so they can understand that using social media has both positive and negative effects
- Create healthy boundaries around social media use: Fair, safe and reasonable social media boundaries should be well-established between parents and their children well before an account is created
- Turn off notifications: Since most adolescents have access to smartphones and the internet, it can be advantageous to disable both social media and push notifications on everyone’s phones
- Talk openly about mental health: Parents should focus on creating an open and honest environment in order to break the stigma of mental health. A child should never feel afraid to discuss their mistakes and their mental health with their parents
- Be available to listen: Make yourself available for discussion as much as possible and establish yourself as an outlet or someone who listens without judgment or punishment
Feelings of depression or anxiety can lead to suicidal thinking. If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Getting Help for Depression
Today, there are many resources available for getting help with depression, as well as many effective treatments options including:
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and depression from social media overuse, The Recovery Village can help. Contact a representative today to discuss treatment options for depression and co-occurring addiction.
- SourcesAnderson, Monica and Jiang, Jing Jing. “Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018.” Pew Research Center, 2018. Accessed May 31, 2019. Bergagna, Elisa and Tartaglia, Stefano. “Self-Esteem, Social Comparison, and Use.” Europe’s Journal of Psychology, November 2018. Accessed May 31, 2019. Fader, Sarah. “Social Media Obsession and Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, November 2018. Accessed May 31, 2019. Hobson, Katherine. “Feeling Lonely? Too Much Time On Social Media May Be Why.” National Public Radio, March 6, 2017. Accessed May 31, 2019. Hunt, Melissa, Marx, Rachel, et al. “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2018. Accessed May 31, 2019. Jelenchick, Lauren, Eickhoff, Jens and Moreno, Megan. ““ Depression?” Social Networking Site Use and Depression in Older Adolescents.” Journal of Adolescent Health, January 2013. Accessed May 31, 2019. Levenson, Jessica, Shensa, Ariel et al. “The Association between Social Media Use and Sleep Disturbance among Young Adults.” Prev Med, April 2016. Accessed May 31, 2019. Lin, Liu Yi, Sidani, Jamie, et al. “ASSOCIATION BETWEEN SOCIAL MEDIA USE AND DEPRESSION AMONG U.S. YOUNG ADULTS.” Depression and Anxiety, January 19, 2016. Accessed May 31, 2019. Mammoser, Gigen. “The FOMO Is Real: How Social Media Increases Depression and Loneliness.” Healthline, December 9, 2018. Accessed May 31, 2019. Primack, Brian, Shensa, Ariel et al. “Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, July 2017. Accessed May 31, 2019. Smith, Aaron and Anderson, Monica. “Social Media Use in 2018.” Pew Research Center, March 1, 2018. Accessed May 31, 2019.
The Social Dilemma: Social Media and Your Mental Health
The social media platform Instagram made headlines last year for suppressing s in an effort to curb the comparisons and hurt feelings associated with attaching popularity to sharing content. But do these efforts combat mental health issues, or are they simply applying a band-aid to a wound?
It’s a small step in the right direction, says Jacqueline Sperling, PhD, a psychologist at McLean Hospital who works with youth who experience anxiety disorders, about Instagram’s recent restriction. “Even if you remove the s, there continue to be opportunities for comparisons and feedback. People still can compare themselves to others, and people still can post comments.”
Dr. Lisa Coyne talks to us about the link between social media and mental health
Social media has a reinforcing nature. Using it activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine, a “feel-good chemical” linked to pleasurable activities such as sex, food, and social interaction. The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments.
According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the U.S. use social media. This puts a large amount of the population at an increased risk of feeling anxious, depressed, or ill over their social media use.
But what makes users come back for more even when it can literally make them feel sick?
“When the outcome is unpredictable, the behavior is more ly to repeat,” Sperling says. “Think of a slot machine: if game players knew they never were going to get money by playing the game, then they never would play.
The idea of a potential future reward keeps the machines in use. The same goes for social media sites. One does not know how many s a picture will get, who will ‘’ the picture, and when the picture will receive s.
The unknown outcome and the possibility of a desired outcome can keep users engaged with the sites.”
To boost self-esteem and feel a sense of belonging in their social circles, people post content with the hope of receiving positive feedback. Couple that content with the structure of potential future reward, and you get a recipe for constantly checking platforms.
When reviewing others’ social activity, people tend to make comparisons such as, “Did I get as many s as someone else?,” or “Why didn’t this person my post, but this other person did?” They’re searching for validation on the internet that serves as a replacement for meaningful connection they might otherwise make in real life.
FOMO—fear of missing out—also plays a role. If everyone else is using social media sites, and if someone doesn’t join in, there’s concern that they’ll miss jokes, connections, or invitations. Missing experiences can create anxiety and depression. When people look online and see they’re excluded from an activity, it can affect thoughts and feelings, and can affect them physically.
A 2018 British study tied social media use to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep, which is associated with depression, memory loss, and poor academic performance. Social media use can affect users’ physical health even more directly. Researchers know the connection between the mind and the gut can turn anxiety and depression into nausea, headaches, muscle tension, and tremors.
Are you spending too much time on your devices? Learn how to spot the signs of screen fatigue and digital burnout.
The earlier teens start using social media, the greater impact the platforms have on mental health. This is especially true for females. While teen males tend to express aggression physically, females do so relationally by excluding others and sharing hurtful comments. Social media increases the opportunity for such harmful interactions.
Sperling offers the example of a seventh grader whose best friend chooses a new best friend and posts pictures of the pair at the movies or on a weekend trip. “Twenty years ago, the girl may have been excluded from her best friend’s activities, but she may not have known about it unless she was told explicitly,” Sperling says.
In addition to providing young people with a window through which they can view missed experiences, social media puts a distorted lens on appearances and reality. , Instagram, and Snapchat increase the lihood of seeing unrealistic, filtered photos at a time when teen bodies are changing.
In the past, teens read magazines that contained altered photos of models. Now, these images are one thumb-scroll away at any given time. Apps that provide the user with airbrushing, teeth whitening, and more filters are easy to find and easier to use. It’s not only celebrities who look perfect—it’s everyone.
When there’s a filter applied to the digital world, it can be hard for teens to tell what’s real and what isn’t, which comes at a difficult time for them physically and emotionally.
“Middle school already is challenging for students with all of their developmental changes.
As they go through puberty, they’re tasked with establishing their identity at a time when the frontal lobes in their brains are not fully developed, and there is a lack of impulse control.
All of this happens while their relationships with peers become more important,” Sperling says. “It’s a very vulnerable population to have access to something where there is no stopgap before they post or press the send button. I think that’s something of which to be mindful.”
Adults are vulnerable, too. In recent years, plastic surgeons have seen an uptick in requests from patients who want to look their filtered Snapchat and Instagram photos.
A New York Times article that ran in June 2018 features a newlywed couple who nearly separated after their honeymoon.
The reason: the wife spent more time on the trip planning and posting selfies than she spent with her husband.
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Sperling acknowledges social platforms have positive aspects, such as their ability to allow people to stay in touch with family and friends around the world.
She realizes the potential pitfalls of completely banning teens from sites that have become a part of life for their generation—not just as a way for them to stay on top of recent parties and conversations but often as an expected source of announcements and news.
Still, she says, the platforms have opened a “Pandora’s box” as they continue to evolve more quickly than we can research their impact.
“I think we need to take a step back and look at the role technology is playing in our society as a whole, in terms of people needing instant gratification, staying home and not interacting in the community by going to local stores or to the movie theater,” she says. “Even dating apps can decrease motivation for single adults to approach others in the community if they think they just can connect with them on an app first.”
In addition to limiting s, as Instagram has done, Sperling suggests social platforms consider decreasing mass sharing altogether. They might function more as messaging services by highlighting one-on-one communications. Regardless of how ly social media giants are to change their ways, though, individuals can take control of their own behavior.
Distract Yourself From the Distraction
People aren’t usually motivated to change their social media use by simply hearing it’s bad for them. It’s better for individuals to see what their limits are. It’s probably unrealistic for most social media users to quit completely. However, they can monitor their behavior to see how their use impacts them, and how to act as a result.
Michelle knows this all too well. When she was initially treated for anxiety, her therapist asked her if she was active on social media, and she said yes. “It turns out that a lot of my anxiety and impostor syndrome is made worse when I’m online.
” A person experiences impostor syndrome when feeling chronic self-doubt and a sense of being exposed as ‘a fraud’ in terms of success and intellect.
“Whether it’s another pretty vacation or someone’s bouquet of flowers, my mind went from ‘Why not me?’ to ‘I don’t deserve those things, and I don’t know why,’ and it made me feel awful.”
She and her therapist decided to set ground rules. “If I was to continue using social media, I had to learn what would trigger my anxiety and how using different platforms made me feel,” says Michelle. The result was her deleting Snapchat for good, and after 5 years, she still doesn’t miss it. She’s still active on several other platforms, though.
Sperling encourages people to conduct their own behavior experiments by rating their emotions on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the most intensely one could experience an emotion, before and after using social media sites at the same time each day for a week. If one notices that one feels less happy after using them, then one might consider changing how one uses social media sites, such as using them for less time and doing other activities that one enjoys instead.
Social media usage can have both benefits and detriments, so it’s important to be aware of how it affects you
A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study suggests that such self-monitoring can change one’s perception of social media.
The study’s researchers looked at 143 undergraduates randomly assigned to two groups.
The first set was asked to limit , Instagram, and Snapchat to ten minutes per platform per day, while the second was asked to continue to use their social media as usual for three weeks.
The limited group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression during those three weeks over the group that continued using social media.
Both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out compared to where they were at the study’s beginning.
“I’d love to say that my use is totally healthy, but I find that I’m still comparing myself to others,” Michelle says. “Now I can recognize what’s going to help or hurt my mental well-being. My therapist and I agreed that I’d set limits on my app usage to two hours a day across all platforms. Now I know when it’s time to log off and take care of myself.”
Set a Good Example
Parents can develop a plan of how much time family members will spend on devices. Strategies these teach kids healthy media use and good sleep hygiene.
When teens start using social media, parents can ask them to turn in their phones at night with the understanding that parents can review posts and messages. This helps parents be in the know, as sometimes young people will share struggles online while parents have no idea.
Monitoring also encourages teens to remember that everything they share online is a permanent fingerprint. If they don’t want their parents to see it, then it shouldn’t be posted.
Sperling suggests that some families modify the ways they use social media. Try a “no selfie” policy or a rule that kids can post pictures of tangible objects but no photos of themselves. This way, children can share their experiences without emphasizing a focus on their appearance.
A common argument is when children say they are missing out because of restrictions placed on their phone use—that they aren’t allowed on a platform or can’t be online after a certain time.
“Parents’ frequency of electronics use can set the tone for what is permissible to their children. If you want your children to put their phones down at dinner, that will be more ly to happen if you do the same.”– Dr. Jacqueline Sperling
Sperling tells parents to remind kids that a good friend would find a way to spend time with them. She suggests other ways for kids to talk to one another to keep those feelings of FOMO away and be socially present.
“If adolescents know that they cannot use their phone after a certain time or are not allowed to access a site that their friends use, then they can ask their friends to let them know of any plans made when they see each other at school or call the house phone or one of the parent’s phones so that they can remain included.”
Of course, Sperling says, the way parents are using social media is the model for their kids. A University of Texas review of research on parents’ use of mobile devices while interacting with their children found that mobile use contributed to distracted parenting, an increase of bids for attention when the parents were distracted, and conflicts with other caregivers.
“Parents’ frequency of electronics use can set the tone for what is permissible to their children,” Sperling says. “If you want your children to put their phones down at dinner, that will be more ly to happen if you do the same.”
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How your social media habits may contribute to depression — and 4 ways to fix it
Social media has become increasingly common with an estimated 3.6 billion users worldwide, and that number is projected to grow to almost 4.5 billion by 2025.
And even though social media has fundamentally altered how we communicate with one another, scientists are still researching potential health implications, especially for mental health.
However, evidence indicates that social media may contribute to depressive symptoms, especially amongst younger populations.
Does social media cause depression?
Social media doesn't directly cause depression , but it can facilitate habits that do. When engaged in social media, it's easy to stay up too late, become distracted, and ignore responsibilities.
«Social media contributing to those things — and in addition to those things — also contributes to depression,» says Lea Lis, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist with a clinical practice in Southampton, New York.
Related How to recognize the signs of depression and effectively cope with your symptoms
In a large 2019 Canadian study of seventh-grade students, researchers found that for every hour spent on social media, depressive symptoms — feeling lonely, sad, and hopeless — all significantly increased.
And while the study couldn't prove that social media caused depression, it concluded that social media use should be regulated to prevent or reduce it.
Here are some of the reasons why researchers and psychologists think social media and depression are so closely correlated.
Why social media may contribute to depression
Related How social media affects the mental health of teenagers
While social media doesn't directly cause depression, it fuels emotions and activities that can. From «doom scrolling» to a lack of physical activity, this is how social media may activate depressive symptoms.
Feelings of isolation: Social media can help cultivate a sense of community and lead to lasting friendships, but it can also cause FOMO, aka «fear of missing out.»
«You are watching other people be together, which can enhance feelings of loneliness, envy, feeling left out, and alienated,» says Gail Saltz, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine. «It creates the feeling that you are on the outside looking in, can't participate, can't measure up, and would embarrass yourself if you tried.»
A large 2019 study studied the effects of social media on perceived social isolation in students aged 18 to 30 years old. Researchers found that each 10% increase in self-described negative experiences on social media enhanced feelings of isolation by 13%.
Conversely, a 10% increase in self-described positive experiences on social media did not make people feel any less isolated. Therefore, even though people can have positive experiences on social media, they do not necessarily alleviate the negative feelings of isolation.
Doomscrolling: There's this idea people tend to have that if they know everything, they can control what happens. Unfortunately, this belief often feeds into endless scrolling on or falling into a Reddit wormhole of bleak content.
This behavior is aptly known as doomscrolling, the habit of continuing to read the news on the internet even if it's depressing, sad, or disheartening. Doomscrolling can further sour your view of the world.
«One of the most painful symptoms of depression is hopelessness. If you're watching more news than you need, or otherwise paying the most attention to negative content, then yes, it will contribute to depression,» says Aimee Daramus, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist based in Chicago, IL.
Sleep deprivation: Spending time on social media requires being awake, potentially later than your body would . A 2019 study examined the effects of social media usage on sleep for teenagers aged 13 to 15. People who spent more than five hours a day on social media were 70% more ly to go to bed after 11 p.m. on school nights and more ly to have trouble falling back asleep.
Related 6 harmful effects of lack of sleep — and why it's unhealthy
«Sleep deprivation can increase anxiety and worsen mood,» says Saltz. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that lack of sleep may induce or exacerbate depression.
Cyberbullying: Social media has also given rise to cyberbullying, where bullies can hurl insults and negativity behind anonymous usernames that make it difficult to hold them accountable.
In a large 2018 study from the Pew Research Center, teenagers aged 13 to 17 years old and their parents shared experiences with cyberbullying.
Researchers found that 60% of girls and 59% of boys experienced some form of cyberbullying, whether it was offensive name-calling or the spreading of false rumors. This can lead to mental health issues, as cyberbullying has been linked to depressive symptoms in students.
Comparing yourself to others: Social media also makes it easy to compare your life to someone else's highlight reel. «Social media leads us to believe that everyone is living in a more perfect world than they actually are,» says Lis.
A 2018 study backs up these claims, as researchers found that students comparing themselves on social media and seeking positive feedback from peers had more depressive symptoms than those who did not. This was more common amongst female students and those who identified as being less popular.
How to minimize the negative mental health effects of social media
Related How to break social media addiction, or spend less time online
Social media may contribute to depressive symptoms, but these four tips can help you scroll less and feel better about your time spent online.
- Turn off notifications. Try muting notifications for all apps — including emails and texts. Without these constant reminders, you may be able to limit how much time you spend on social media, says Lis.
- Set time limits. Setting a limit on how often you use social media apps will cause an alert to appear when you've gone over your allotted amount of time. Following these limits can help reduce screen time.
- Be selective. Instead of connecting with everyone on social media, Saltz recommends focusing on a few strong relationships. Then, set up times to engage with these friends face-to-face, outside digital confines.
- Use social media mindfully. Seek out positive platforms and interactions, such as meditation apps or talking to a friend, and spend less time following people you constantly compare yourself to celebrities or models.
The bottom line
While social media use doesn't directly cause depression, it can increase the lihood of depressive symptoms by increasing feelings of isolation, sleep deprivation, and cyberbullying. Being aware of how you feel on different social media platforms and taking a break can help mitigate these negative consequences.
Social Media And Depression: What’s The Link?
Regardless of what you did today on your computer or your phone, it’s ly that social media was involved one way or another.
Four billion people worldwide use social media. , , and Instagram have prompted mental health experts to investigate whether the popularity of social media plays a role in depression.
So far, research suggests that those who limit the amount of time spent on social media tend to be happier overall than those who don’t. Studies also indicate that social media can trigger various negative emotions in users that can worsen or contribute to symptoms of depression.
Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is a mood disorder defined by persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in things someone used to enjoy.
Symptoms can be mild or severe and make it challenging for those with the condition to focus, sleep or eat well, make decisions, or manage day-to-day responsibilities.
What are the facts?
With more than half of the world’s entire population active on social media sites, it’s fair to say that social media has never been more popular. Here’s what the research has to say.
- According to a study in 2018, people who are checking and Instagram late at night are more ly to feel unhappy and depressed.
- Another study from 2018 found that the fewer time people spent on social media, the more minor symptoms of loneliness and depression they experienced.
- A 2015 examination found that users who felt envious while scrolling on the networking site were more ly to experience symptoms of depression and loneliness.
Generally speaking, they found that if you use less social media, you’re less lonely and depressed overall. This means that decreased social media usage is what causes a significant shift in your well-being.
For three weeks, the study asked participants to reduce their social media usage to 30 minutes a day, 10 minutes for three different platforms (Snapchat, Instagram, ).
The results were precise: The group that used less social media, even though it wasn’t eliminated, had better mental health outcomes.
Baseline readings for participants were taken when the study began. They measure several areas of well being, including:
- Social support
- Fear of missing out
At the end of the study, researchers saw depressive, and loneliness symptoms decrease, especially in the people who initially reported higher levels of depression.
How can systems meant to bring us closer to friends and family be bad for our mental health?
The answer is complicated.Experts say that when we log on, we activate a lot of social comparisons, sometimes unknowingly. When you log on, you’re generally dealing with very curated content on the other side. This leads to questions :
- How is my life stacking up?
- How am I stacking up?
These consistent “upward social comparisons” can occur hundreds of times every day, depending on how often you check your social media feeds.
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is an additional mental health effect that’s heavily linked with the use of social media. Experts say it has a real significance. FOMO happens when we think about ‘what might have been or the things that lead to feelings of regret and remorse.
Researchers believe that part of the powerful is this cue that maybe we’re not being included by people we have essential social relationships with. It can lead people to question their friendships or their self-worth.
Ultimately, monitoring the amount of time you spend on social media can also mean there’s less time to compare yourself to other people. This can spread to not thinking poorly of yourself and developing the symptoms that contribute to depression.
How to use social media safely
Using social media comes with risks, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it should be avoided entirely. Experts recommend using the networks in moderation.
You can start by setting a timer to limit your social media usage or install an app on your phone to track how long you’ve been on it.
Without these limitations, it’s easy to waste hours upon hours scrolling through social media. To limit your time and usage, you can also plan activities that help you focus on your present environments and circumstances. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, play a game, or call a friend. Make the time to enjoy life offline.
Finding help for depression
If you are experiencing any symptoms or signs of depression, it may be time to seek help.
Help is available for depression at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic. The team at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic specializes in many therapeutic techniques that effectively help people with depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy are just a few examples of approaches that help people with depression.
We work to put your worries about opening up to rest by providing a comfortable location and atmosphere. We’re now offering virtual appointments in California, Washington, Texas.Contact us today to schedule an appointment.