While social media can be an excellent way to connect with people, the downside of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can cause anxiety and depression. Here are some reasons why. Social media can be a great way to connect with your friends, family, and other people we know, including old classmates and coworkers we haven’t talked to in years, But it also gives us an opportunity to see everyone else’s seemingly amazing lives, including their successes, vacations, and all the fun things they do that you wish you could do too.
Many of us find ourselves more concerned with receiving likes and shares than we are with spending time with loved ones, which can lead to anxiety and depression in some users. If you’re finding yourself feeling down about the amount of time you spend on social media, take these steps to make sure you aren’t hurting yourself.
Social media can cause anxiety
As more and more people use social media, it’s not surprising that some of them suffer from anxiety as a result. There are lots of reasons why someone might feel anxious after checking Facebook or Twitter. For example, constantly seeing others’ supposedly perfect lives can make a person feel like they have no friends or like no one would ever want to be their friend. Another possibility is those constant notifications—Ding! A new message! Whooosh! Got an email! Ding, ding, ding! New followers!—could make someone worry about missing out on something important.
In fact, social media can cause more severe forms of anxiety. There are several examples of people who developed extreme anxiety after using Facebook. One girl, for example, saw another user update his status to in a relationship with someone she assumed was his new girlfriend. She didn’t know how to contact him to ask if they were still together or if he was planning on getting back together with her. As a result, she developed an extremely serious phobia of anything that could hurt her social media experience, such as not posting things on time or even deactivating her account. That kind of debilitating anxiety is unusual—but it makes sense that social media can cause more common forms of anxiety too.
Why are so many people anxious?
Researchers estimate that up to 8% of young people suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a condition characterized by chronic, excessive worry. The causes behind GAD are likely to be varied, but in some cases, there is a contributing factor – social media. According to a recent study, college students with more than 100 friends on Facebook were twice as likely to develop anxiety symptoms compared with their peers. Another study found that high users of Twitter were significantly more likely to score higher on scales measuring depression and neuroticism.
Anxiety is a common mental health condition characterized by extreme feelings of worry or fear, as well as physiological symptoms such as rapid heart rate. People with anxiety often have other problems, including depression or substance abuse. In severe cases, it can be difficult to function in daily life, with some people unable to work or go to school. But there are ways you can reduce your symptoms and improve your well-being—with therapy, medication, stress management techniques, and even lifestyle changes like exercise.
While some anxiety is normal, excessive worry can keep you from enjoying your life to its fullest. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, first talk to your doctor about getting a referral for psychotherapy or medication. Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercises like running or cycling, has been shown to help people manage their feelings and is also good for your overall health. Mindfulness techniques can be effective in reducing symptoms because they help you focus on the present moment instead of worrying about things that may never happen. Some mindfulness strategies include meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga. Eating a healthy diet is another important part of managing anxiety—fruits, vegetables, and fish have all been shown to reduce symptoms among those with mood disorders.
Are you a social media junkie? Check out these five signs to see if you’re addicted. An estimated 35 million Indians suffer from some type of internet addiction, including addiction to social media. At its heart, social media is nothing more than a tool that can be used positively or negatively. While it’s clear that many people use their time on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat in healthy ways (or at least not to excess), an increasing number are not using these networks in healthy ways—and it’s leading to anxiety and depression for many users. Users may believe they’re suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder or clinical depression when what they’re really suffering from is a problem with their online lives. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has even begun recognizing internet-use disorder as a possible mental health condition. Social media could lead to feelings of envy. Many people who are active on social media compare themselves unfavorably to others and may feel jealous about how much other people seem to enjoy life compared to them. This can lead them down a path toward unhappiness and even depression as they begin to see life through dark-colored glasses. Social media may make us less satisfied with our own lives.
A 2019-2020 study found that social media users were more likely to compare themselves with others on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites than non-users. And interestingly, it wasn’t just those who had a tendency to be envious in real life who were susceptible; even those who did not usually experience envy reported being unhappy after viewing friends’ social media posts. Those negative feelings can linger, sometimes for days.
In fact, one survey found that nearly half of social media users said they experienced FOMO (fear of missing out) at least once a week. That’s because we’re often getting only part of someone’s story—the highlights—which makes us feel like we’re missing out on something big. When you combine these feelings with actual events where you’ve missed out (not getting an invitation to an event or party), your brain begins to think that something is wrong with your life because you don’t have what everyone else seems to have—or are doing what everyone else seems to be doing. In some cases, people may start using social media as a coping mechanism when they’re feeling down or depressed, which only increases their risk for depression and anxiety.
How to stay positive online
By nature, social media can be an isolating environment. Because much of it is highly curated and filtered, you’re often left comparing your own life to other people’s highlight reels—never a recipe for feeling good about yourself. In addition to being conscious about what you post, consider following accounts that make you smile or that are run by people you admire.
If you’re having a hard time staying positive online, it’s important to reach out for help. Make sure you talk to someone you trust—friends, family, a religious or spiritual leader—and take advantage of resources that are available on Facebook and Twitter. Both platforms have programs designed to support users who may be struggling with self-esteem issues.
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What you need to do
This week, set aside some time to read up on how social media affects depression and anxiety. You’ll need to do some real research here – academic articles are a great start. But don’t stop there! Use forums like Reddit or Quora to get anecdotal evidence about what people think about social media’s effect on mental health. Ultimately, you want to give your readers enough information so that they can make an informed decision on whether or not they should be spending more time on social media.
In your post, you’ll want to consider at least some of these questions. Do you believe social media has a positive or negative effect on people’s mental health? Have you had personal experience with mental illness that was worsened by social media? Consider what social media apps have been linked to depression or anxiety (the most common culprit is Facebook), and which ones have been linked to general improvements in wellbeing. Do you recommend any strategies for reducing the negative effects of social media? Finally, do make sure to read our complete guide on writing better titles. It will help you write more effective titles, which will ultimately increase your readership. There are no hard rules here – just write something that sounds appealing to your audience!