We live in a world where life for many is played out on social media. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 3 billion people globally use social media to connect to others, access news and share information. In the US, young adults ages 18-29 use social media sites the most, but the numbers are rising for social media usage by other age groups also.
While we would like to believe the constant stream of pictures is real life, it often is not. Social media tells us that everyone is happier, wealthier, prettier, and smarter than we are. But that simply isn’t true, and as we scroll, social media becomes a catapult for jealousy, low self-esteem, and depression. Eventually, it takes a toll on our mental health.
How am impacted?
We tend to get caught up in the illusion that social media will make us feel better, although we know that it won’t. Numerous studies have shown that social media impacts mental health, including one from Nottingham Trent University that attributed excessive use with neglecting personal life, mental preoccupation, mood modification, and hiding the addictive behavior.
Social media provides us with an invaluable resource to frequently connect with others. On the surface, this seems positive. However, the more time individuals spend on social media, the more socially isolated they become, which can often result in depression. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, loneliness is more harmful than smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
Additionally, before we realize it, we are comparing ourselves to others and making judgments about how we measure up to the unrealistic lives we see on the screen, creating a feeling of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
Research also shows that people who juggle multiple social media platforms have three times more risk of depression than those who use less. The constant juggling wreaks havoc on the brain causing poor attention, cognition, and mood.
How do I use social media to build mental strength?
Social media is not all negative and can be used to share positive messages and engage in the community. There has also beeb an increased use of social media to spread mental health awareness.
To form a healthy relationship with social media, there are a few tips we can try:
- Unfollow. So much of what we see on social media is false, whether it comes from friends, businesses, or influencers. When you look at who you follow, think about the way their feed makes you feel. Does your happiness decrease? Does it make you feel negative about yourself? If so, you may need to make a change and unfollow these accounts. Setting healthy boundaries is good for your mental health.
- Reduce. It is rare to be in public and not see people glued to their phone, in fact, people spend on average over two hours a day on social media. Take some time to track how much time you are spending on social media. Maybe it is time to limit your screen time and incorporate some real-world experiences.
- Take a Break. Taking a digital detox may not be easy, but it can help you reconnect to reality. Try logging out of your social media for a day, then maybe a week. Take note of how you spend your time. Did you spend quality time with friends and family? Practice some much-needed self-care?
How can I get help for my depression?
A depressive disorder is more than just feeling sad or blue; it is a mental illness that can severely impact daily functioning if left untreated. In the US alone over 7% of the population has had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Depression has many symptoms that affect individuals differently, but typically, a depressive disorder interrupts day-to-day life and lasts for more than two weeks. Common symptoms include the following:
- Changes in sleep and eating patterns
- Lack of concentration and energy
- Loss of interest in activities
- Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
- Physical aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts
At Lifeskills South Florida, we treat individuals battling depression using a holistic approach that combines elements of mindfulness, meditation, and integrated primary care. To ensure a sustained recovery, we use evidence-based therapeutic interventions that help clients develop the coping skills needed to transition to life outside of treatment. If you or your loved one is battling depression and need a higher level of care, we encourage you to call our admissions team at 954-953-1742 or complete our contact form for more information. Lifeskills South Florida is a place for second chances and can help you address the challenges you face.