Over the past ten years, social media has rapidly expanded, creating a brand-new platform for interpersonal communication. Online communities like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have allowed people to engage with one another around the clock. Social media is expected to have about 3 billion monthly users by 2021. It is obvious from the statistics alone that social media has assimilated into our lives and has mostly become unavoidable. While social media has been widely linked to Anxiety and depression in teens, new evidence suggests that platforms such as TikTok and Instagram can leave middle-aged adults feeling sad, too.
Social media’s association with young people’s mental health is one aspect of its explosive growth that has drawn much attention in recent years. The body of research supporting the link between social media use and depression and Anxiety is extensive. Although it is still developing, recent research has provided a clearer picture of the key effects. Young people’s use of social media as a communication tool needs to be closely scrutinized because it might have a greater negative impact than we initially believed.
Social media and depression
One of the biggest differences in the lives of current teenagers and young adults, compared to earlier generations, is that they spend much less time connecting with their peers in person and more time connecting electronically, principally through social media.
Some experts see the rise in depression as evidence that the connections social media users form electronically are less emotionally satisfying, leaving them feeling socially isolated.
“The less you are connected with human beings in a deep, empathic way, the less you’re really getting the benefits of a social interaction,” points out Alexandra Hamlet, PsyD, a clinical psychologist. “The more superficial it is, the less likely it’s going to cause you to feel connected, which is something we all need.”
Indeed, one exception to the depression correlation is girls who are high social media users and maintain a high level of face-to-face social interaction. The Twenge study showed that those girls who interact intensely offline and through social media don’t show an increase in depressive symptoms than those who interact less in person do.
And some teenagers aren’t successful in connecting with peers offline because they are isolated geographically or don’t feel accepted in their schools and local communities. For those kids, the electronic connection can be lifesaving.
Social media and Anxiety
New followers, “likes,” and heartfelt remarks can activate your mind’s reward system. Dopamine, a “feel good” hormone, may be released by the brain due to these social media boosts.
If you feel rewarded, you may unconsciously be prompted to check whether you have any new likes, comments, or follows.
If you stop checking social media, the absence of encouraging feedback could make you feel anxious. A 2015 study found that dopamine fluctuations or declines may raise your likelihood of experiencing Anxiety.
In the case of social Anxiety, you may feel more fearful and anxious about being assessed by others in an environment where it’s simple to compare oneself to others or feel judged by a sense of similarity — or lack thereof.
You could occasionally experience social anxiety symptoms for the first time due to the same circumstances.
According to Charna Cassell, a certified marriage and family therapist in Oakland, California, social media may unquestionably lead to social Anxiety.
According to Cassell, if you feel like you don’t “live up” to the standards on your feed, you can experience the signs and symptoms of social Anxiety. You can start worrying more about what people think of you or how your online and real lives might contrast.
For instance, if you’ve spent a lot of time and energy depicting only a few elements of your life, you can feel nervous about meeting people in person.
If you’ve relied on using social media filters to your images to alter your appearance, you could also be concerned about people scrutinizing you.
Observing other people’s triumphs could affect you if you already suffer from a social anxiety disorder. According to a 2018 study, using social media may cause people to experience a fear of missing out (FOMO).
Comparing your experiences with others may result from FOMO, which can occasionally make you feel inadequate.
If you feel that you don’t “fit in” in particular social circumstances, this insufficiency could develop into social anxiety symptoms. You can then start to fear being seen by others or judged by them.
According to research, teens who use social media compulsively may develop social media weariness. This weariness may be partially explained by a fear of missing out, which occasionally may lead to worsening Anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Longer use of social media platforms may be linked to more severe social anxiety symptoms, according to 2015 and 2020 Trusted Source research. These symptoms can become more severe if you merely utilize the platform passively.
In other words, compared to people who use social media more actively and engage with other users, individuals who merely use it to see what others post may be more prone to have symptoms of social Anxiety.
Social media and perceived isolation
Another study conducted last year on a national sample of young individuals (aged 19 to 32) found a link between social media use and feelings of social isolation (PSI). The authors stated that it is impossible to discern directionality. Specifically, “Do social media users who feel more isolated from others spend more time on social media, or do more frequent users develop PSI?”
“Is it because the individual is spending less time on more genuine social experiences that would diminish PSI?” they asked if the latter was the case. Or does it just make you feel more excluded from viewing carefully controlled social feeds?
Thus, we get to FOMO or the fear of missing out.
Observing that “FOMO is the fear of not being connected to our social environment, and that need to feel connected sometimes outweighs whatever is going on in the actual circumstance we’re in,” Jerry Bubrick, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, says. We think less about being in the moment as we use social media more and more.
Instead, we can be preoccupied with questions like why we weren’t invited to a party we saw on Instagram or keeping an eye out for a friend’s posts. But if we’re always catching up on never-ending online updates, we’re prioritizing social interactions that don’t provide as much emotional satisfaction and may even make us feel more alone.
Self-esteem and social media
Another explanation for the rise in depression is the decline in self-esteem, particularly among teenage girls, brought on by negative comparisons to carefully crafted pictures of individuals who appear to be prettier, thinner, more popular, and wealthier than themselves.
Dr. Hamlet says that “many females are inundated with their friends uploading the most ideal photographs of themselves, or they’re following celebs and influencers who use a lot of Photoshop and have teams for their cosmetics and hair.” It can be quite difficult for a person’s self-confidence if that serves as their model of what is normal.
Research reveals that image-centric Instagram is the website where young people most frequently report experiencing Anxiety, despair, and body image concerns.
According to Dr. Bubrick, curating a perfect image risks making others feel inferior and unhealthy for people who appear to be great at it. Kids spend a lot of time on social media trying to portray what they believe to be the ideal life for the world. See how joyful I am? Look at how gorgeous I am! They are concerned that their buddies won’t accept them if they don’t have that. They are concerned about rejection. Additionally, if they receive praise for their social media posts, they might be concerned that what their friends say about them isn’t the “true” them.
Does social media cause depression?
According to a recent study, there is, in fact, a causal relationship between social media use and detrimental impacts on well-being, particularly melancholy and loneliness. The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology published the study.
Jordyn Young, a co-author of the paper and a senior at the University of Pennsylvania said, “What we found overall is that if you use less social media, you are actually less depressed and less lonely, meaning that the decreased social media use is what causes that qualitative shift in your well-being.”
Before this, all that could be said was that social media use was linked to less-than-optimal outcomes for well-being.
According to the experts, this is the first time a causal relationship has been proven in scientific studies.
One hundred forty-three students from the University of Pennsylvania participated in the study. They were randomly divided into two groups: those who would continue using social media as usual and those who would have much less access to it.
The experimental group’s daily social media usage was limited to 30 minutes for three weeks, with 10 minutes spent on each platform (Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat).
To maintain these experimental circumstances, the researchers looked at phone usage data, which showed how much time was spent each day using each app. All study participants were required to utilize iPhones.
But why on earth did you allow the test group to access social media at all?
“We didn’t believe that [total abstinence] accurately reflected the landscape of the world in which we live. According to Young, we are surrounded by social media in so many ways.
The findings were unambiguous: Those who used social media less, even though it wasn’t entirely cut out, fared better regarding their mental health.
At the start of the experiment, baseline readings were recorded for participants in several well-being domains, including social support, fear of missing out, loneliness, Anxiety, depression, self-esteem, autonomy, and self-acceptance.
In the experimental group, loneliness and depressive symptoms decreased at the end of the trial, with those with higher levels of depression seeing the most reductions.
No matter how depressed they were initially, Young claimed that people who were advised to reduce their use of social media experienced less despair.
The researchers hypothesize that the decrease in Anxiety and FOMO observed in both groups may have resulted from participants’ increased awareness of their social media usage due to participating in the trial.
How can you beat depression and Anxiety caused by social media?
Social media can be a great joy, connecting us with friends and family worldwide. However, it can also be a major source of Anxiety and depression. There’s no question that social media can be a major source of stress and Anxiety. Many of us, please scroll through our newsfeeds, and it’s a never-ending avalanche of bad news, Comparisonitis, and FOMO.
Too much time spent scrolling through perfect-looking lives can leave us feeling inadequate and alone. If you find yourself in this situation, you can do a few things to break the cycle of negative thinking. First, take a break from social media.
Step away from your phone and computer, and do something that makes you happy. Secondly, reach out to your friends and family. Whether you meet up in person or give them a call, talking to people you care about will help you feel more connected and less isolated. Finally, remind yourself that social media is not reality. What we see on our screens is often an edited version of reality, so don’t compare your life to what you see on Instagram or Facebook. If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be on your way to beating depression and Anxiety caused by social media.
Mental disorders include anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder and other anxiety disorders. A panic disorder has many risk factors that can lead to mental illness and panic attacks.
Out of all mental health disorders, only persistent depressive disorder shows physical symptoms that can be cured by following diagnostic and statistical manuals.
While it is clear that social media can negatively affect mental health, the jury is still out on whether or not social media is actually to blame. It’s important to remember that social media is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for good or bad. Social media can be a powerful way to connect with friends and family, share experiences, and learn new things when used in moderation and with caution.
So far, there isn’t enough evidence to say that social media causes depression and Anxiety. Still, if you feel like your use of social media is having a negative effect on your mental health, it might be time to take a break. Follow YouTube Channel