Social media seriously harms your mental health – here is how using social media can harm mental health.
As human beings, we are social creatures that need the companionship of others.
The strength of these connections has a tremendous impact on our physical and mental health. Researchers found that social relationships reduce stress, anxiety, self-hate, depression, and other negative thoughts.
Conversely, being socially isolated increases the risk of several mental and emotional diseases.
Just a few years ago, humans had to physically gather up to socialize with others; however, and with the exponential growth of social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat), the traditional way of socializing has changed.
While it’s true that social media provided some added value to our lives, they can never be a replacement for real-world human interaction. You see, meeting with others in-person drives the secretion of stress-relieving hormones, making you happier, healthier, and more positive.
According to studies, spending too much time on social media emphasizes your feelings of loneliness and isolation, which eventually exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In this article, we will explore the negative effects of social media on your mental health.
The mental health effects of social media
Due to the recent expansion of social media platforms, the research around their effects is rather scarce, especially when it comes to their long-term consequences.
With that said, several studies found a link between excessive social media use and an increased risk of mental disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, loneliness).
Here are the common side effects of excessive social media use:
Inadequacy about your life or appearance
Despite knowing that most of the images posted on social media are fake, people still feel insecure about the way they look or the type of life they are living.
Additionally, those flashy images shared on social media are nothing but a highlight of the person’s life; you will rarely see images depicting the low points that everyone experiences. However, our nature as humans will still trigger feelings of dissatisfaction and envy.
Unfortunately, the overuse of social media keeps feeding these negative feelings, which risks transforming into a serious mental health illness.
Fear of missing out (FOMO)
The incidence of FOMO has skyrocketed, along with the popularity of websites, such as Facebook and Instagram. You will inadvertently feel that you are missing out on a lot of fun and that your friends are having so much fun without you.
As a result, you will be subject to negative feelings that impact your self-esteem and trigger anxiety. Additionally, you might want to compensate for those negative feelings by constantly taking photos of yourself, checking the number of likes and shares you got, and compulsively reacting to every notification on your phone.
Over the past few years, the health consequences of FOMO raised some alarms, especially when combined with concurrent mental disorders (e.g., major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder).
Note that FOMO existed before the invention of social media; however, its incidence and severity dramatically increased with these platforms.
In one study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that overusing Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat increases feelings of loneliness and isolation rather than tempering them down.
The good news is that reducing your use of social media produces the opposite effects and improve your overall health.
Depression and anxiety
The prevalence of anxiety and depression is on the rise every year. According to the World Health Organization, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability around the globe.
In the past, we had regular social gatherings that boosted the secretion of neurotransmitters responsible for inducing feelings of happiness and euphoria.
These physical stimulations got lost with the invention of social media platforms. Therefore, the more you prioritize social media over in-person interactions, the higher your risk of developing depression and anxiety.
Reports suggest that 10% of teens using the internet get bullied on social media.
For instance, regular users of Twitter are more likely to be subject to hurtful comments and offenses that could leave long-lasting emotional scars.
We often see older individuals undermining the effects of cyberbullying on children and teens; however, this is a real issue that we witness its seriousness every day just by following the rates of suicide in these age groups.
Signs that social media is hurting you
Overusing social media
Spending too much time on social media instead of meeting with real-world friends is the first warning sign that something is not right.
Furthermore, you might find yourself constantly checking your phone despite being out with friends. As a result of this behavior, your social interactions will be less social, especially if everyone in your circle is paying more attention to their phones rather than the actual gathering.
Comparing yourself to others
The constant comparison between yourself and other friends/celebrities on social media is another sign that you should be aware of.
The negative feelings grown from this devastating habit can quickly turn into psychiatric disorders, requiring long-term therapy.
Poor performance at school or work
Poor concentration and performance at school or work due to social media obsession is an advanced sign of social media addiction.
Engaging in risky behavior
Worrying about how many likes, shares, and positive reactions you got is a form of risky behavior associated with social media addiction.
Some people take this to the next level by organizing dangerous pranks and posting inappropriate content just to feed their cravings for attention.
Takeaway message – social media seriously harms your mental health
Social media is a double-edged sword that could provide you with added value or wreak havoc on your life depending on how you use it. The negative mental health effects of overusing these platforms should be a warning sign for all of us to stop and think about what we are doing.
By far, teenagers are the most susceptible to develop serious complications from overusing social media; we must pay close attention to this age group.
Hopefully, this article managed to shed some light on the ever-important topic of social media and its effects on mental health.
One way to spend less time on social media is to keep your attention busy with something else such as with doing some sport activities – exercise has many benefits also for mental health including anxiety.
When you search for help – you can find and get in touch with experts for mental health online.
If you would like to try and include another approach towards re-shaping certain limiting beliefs into living life with much more supportive beliefs instead, then take a look at all the different professional self-hypnosis audios.