About 4 billion people across the world use social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This has informed mental health practitioners to look deeper into whether social media usage can cause mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Research suggests that individuals who spend much time on social media are bound to experience frequent sadness than those who use social media moderately. Social media is also believed to cause an emotional imbalance that may lead to or worsen depression symptoms.
Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a mood disorder that may cause prolonged sadness and loss of interest in things that once made you happy. When depression worsens, it can be difficult for the victim to concentrate, make sound decisions, sleep well, or complete daily tasks.
People with depression may experience suicidal thoughts, loneliness, anxiety, fatigue, or headaches. Fortunately, with psychotherapy and medication, depression symptoms can be treated. Additionally, limiting online time and concentrating on physical connections can benefit your mental well-being.
Role of Social Media in Mental Health
Human beings are social creatures by nature. We all need companionship to succeed in life. The strength of friendship and socializing has a positive impact on our general and mental health. Connecting with other people can ease or prevent stress, anxiety, and depression. Social connection can also prevent loneliness, enhance joy and happiness, boost self-worth, and increase life expectancy. Lack of social connections can increase your mental health and mood imbalance.
Currently, most of us rely on social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to connect with other people. Though these platforms come with their fair share of benefits, it’s advisable to understand that they can never replace real-world human interactions. Personal contact between people triggers the hormones that prevent stress and making you feel happy and healthier. Ironically, though social media were meant to bring people together, it can make you feel more lonely and isolated. This can lead to mental challenges such as anxiety and depression.
If you spend more time on social media and feelings of sadness, loneliness, frustration, and dissatisfaction seem to be the norm; you should minimize the time you spend on these platforms and reconnect with the real world before you develop mental health problems.
Positive Aspects of Social Media
While online interaction cannot have the same psychological benefits as face-to-face connection, there are still some positive ways for supporting your well-being and stay connected to people you love. It may help:
- Find or offer emotional support on tough days
- Connect to people with who you share the same ambitions and interests
- Communicate with people who you love
- Support worthwhile causes
- Discover and learn new things
- Be creative and express your thoughts
Negative Aspects of Social Media
Though the technology is relatively new, there is much to be done to establish whether there are long-term consequences related to social media usage. Nevertheless, various studies have linked excessive social media usage with depression, loneliness, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. Negative aspects of social media may include:
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Though FOMO has been around before social media, social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook tend to make you think that other people have more fun or live better lives than you do. Feeling as if you are left out or missing out can negatively impact your self-esteem, trigger anxiety symptoms, and lead to excess social media use. FOMO can compel you to check your phone every minute to check out some notifications or make you feel the urge to respond to each notification even when driving. Individuals experiencing FOMO prioritize online interaction over real-world relationships.
Inadequacy About Your Appearance and General Life
Most social media enthusiasts share the best things happening in their lives. Some go the extra mile to photoshop just to ensure that they look good and their lives are heading in the right direction. This makes some people have feelings of worthlessness and have a negative attitude towards their physical appearance. However, even with this knowledge about people’s fake lives, it’s normal to feel envy whenever you see someone airbrushed photos or when reading about the engagement ring they received.
Depression and Anxiety
We all need one-on-one interaction to enhance our mental health. Face-to-face interaction is the best remedy in reducing mood disorders. Prioritizing online interaction over face-to-face interaction puts at greater risk of developing depression and anxiety.
More than 10% of teens report being bullied on social platforms. They are subjected to offensive comments leading to some having suicidal thoughts. Social media such as Twitter can spread fake news, rumors, and abuse that can negatively impact one’s life.
Why Young People Are at Risk
Before the popularity of social media and the internet, young people only worried about bullying in schools. However, after social media, there has been another way of bullying and tormenting their victims. With just a click, bullies can circulate fake news about someone causing harm to their general well-being. Due to negative comments following the fake news, some victims have committed suicide or have caused bodily harm.
In some cases, victims of bullying opt to be silent due to fear of increased bullying if they speak up. However, it’s recommended for victims to seek help if they are bullied, whether online or at school, to prevent the matter from escalates.
Social platforms have made things easier. You can connect and educate yourself at any time as long as you are connected to the internet. However, everything is two-sided. Excessive usage of social media can cause physical and mental challenges such as depression and anxiety. To avoid such challenges, use social media moderately and concentrate on real-world connections. Besides, face-to-face interaction can enhance your mental health and promotes happiness.