Recent studies have shown a clear link between negative mental health attributes, such as depression, poor sleep quality, and feelings of jealousy in heavy social media users.
Social media giants like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have completely dominated our culture. It is almost impossible to run a reputable business without some sort of social media presence and even our president has brought social media into the forefront of the headlines.
If you had a feeling that your social media usage was making you depressed, you are probably somewhat correct. Depression is made up of a lot of compounding factors but recent evidence into the prevalence of mental health issues and social media is very revealing.
It’s not that social media itself is bad for your mental health. Inherently, it’s not that bad but the amount of time you spend scrolling through newsfeeds, refreshing pages, and liking posts are what’s damaging your mental health.
Repeating What Everyone Else Has: Social Media Makes Us Jealous
It’s all old news now; we know that we harbor more feelings of jealousy when we spend more time on Facebook and Instagram. But why is that? Researchers have found that we are not completely genuine on our social media profiles but we expect that others are. We see all of the positive attributes of someone’s life but never see the negative, so we become jealous.
We begin to believe that this person really does live a happier, more productive, and more fulfilling life than us. But why wouldn’t we? That is the image they are projecting and we are getting bombarded with these images multiple times a day. It makes sense to put your best foot forward. No one wants to go into the dark corners of their life, especially to expose them to the internet.
We can combat our feelings of jealousy or our fear of missing out (FOMO is the acronym for this, by the way) by simply keeping this in mind; people are going to put the best version of themselves out there and probably are not being 100% revealing in what they post on social media.
There has been a study conducted that actually showed associations with addiction and Facebook. Internet addiction is a real thing and so is gaming addiction, it would only make sense that social media could be addictive as well. Think about how much time you spend mindlessly scrolling through posts. Some people use it as an escape or a coping skill for anxiety. You get instant gratification from seeing posts and headlines as you scroll through the site. It can be exciting when you see an interesting post pop-up on your feed.
We now know that a sudden abruption in social media usage in those that are addicted can cause similar symptoms that mimic those quitting substances or smoking.
We Lose Sleep Over It
We’ve all been there. We can’t sleep and so we turn to our phones for entertainment and end up down the meme rabbit hole. Before we know it, it’s been two hours and we have to be up in four hours. This seems harmless enough but again, it is all about frequency. Sleep disturbances are a main symptom of depression. More recent studies have shown a relationship between poor sleep quality and greater Facebook use.
Social media is hard to entirely escape, so what is our solution? Try limiting your time on social media gradually, decreasing a few minutes each week. If you are addicted to social media, there is no reason to compound your negative feelings with symptoms of withdrawal. Deleting all of your social media profiles probably doesn’t hold the key to happiness but you might feel a little less defeated if you limit your usage.