According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 5% of adults suffer from depression. They are also advocating for the recognition of Internet addiction as a legitimate mental health disorder. Many Internet users are already familiar with the negative effects of social media. The WHO refers to this phenomenon as ‘digital stress’ and recognizes it as a mental health epidemic.
Social media addiction is a serious problem for many people today. The constant access to friends and family has led to a dependence on social media for validation and self-worth. And with technology constantly evolving, it’s become nearly impossible for users to escape from their screens. For example, research shows that teens spend about seven hours each day on their phone or computer – that’s more time than they spend sleeping! In particular, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook are all known for their potential to produce negative effects on users in terms of mental health. Social media addiction is a real thing – and it can trigger depressive episodes in those who are already at risk for depression.
What is social media addiction?
There is no single definition of social media addiction, but most researchers agree that it is a form of pathological behavior that is similar to substance addiction (e.g. nicotine or alcohol). Individuals who are addicted to social media have been shown to have similar patterns of behavior and neural responses as those addicted to substances. Some of the main symptoms of social media addiction include an obsession with staying up-to-date with newsfeeds, feelings of shame or guilt after spending time away from social media, an inability to control the time spent online, and negative feelings when internet connections are broken. Social media addiction is particularly concerning because it can be so pervasive and difficult to recognize. It can affect anyone who regularly uses social media platforms, including those who don’t experience negative consequences.
The link between social media and depression
Social media can negatively affect mood and lower self-esteem, particularly for those who are having depressive thoughts. When you’re scrolling through a feed full of curated, glamorous images, it can be hard to feel satisfied with your own life and accomplishments. While there is no concrete data linking depression and social media use, there is some evidence to suggest that increased social media usage could be associated with an increased risk of depression in some populations.
For example, a study of college students found that those who used social media more often reported feeling greater levels of loneliness, which is a known risk factor for depression. Another study found that negative self-image was more prevalent among people who used Facebook compared to those who used Twitter or Instagram. Additionally, a recent study found that women who regularly use Instagram are more likely to attempt suicide than women who do not use the app regularly. However, the study did not address whether Instagram use actually caused the increased risk of suicide.
Depression and suicide in young adults
Social media addiction is especially concerning among young adults and adolescents who are most likely to experience negative effects from constant use. The WHO report found that people aged between 15 and 29 are most likely to experience social media-related mental health issues. In particular, this age group is most at risk for depression and suicide.
Young adults have had high rates of depression for years, but experts say that the rise in social media use is a likely contributor to the increase in depression and suicide rates. In fact, many mental health professionals are now linking social media addiction to an increase in mental health issues. For instance, one study found that the more time adolescents spend on social media, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.
How do you know if you are suffering from social media addiction?
Most people know that using social media is not healthy. It’s addictive and time-consuming, affecting our real-life relationships as well as our sense of identity. But what most people don’t know is how social media addiction may actually lead to depression. Social media is a double-edged sword: while it can increase your circle of friends and help you find jobs and new connections, it also has the capacity to become an unhealthy addiction. To prevent your depression from getting worse, it is critical to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of social media addiction.
A good way to gauge your relationship with social media is to answer these questions:
- Do you feel like you need to be on your phone or computer?
- Would you be upset if you couldn’t look at your phone?
- Do you feel empty when you’re not scrolling through your feed?
- Do you feel bad or guilty when you’re not on social media?
- Do you compare yourself to others on social media?
These are all negative signs that you might be addicted to social media. If you think you might be suffering from social media addiction, there are a few steps you can take to break free from the shackles of social media addiction.
Strategies to break free from the shackles of social media
While social media can be a helpful tool, it is important to limit the time you spend on such platforms. This can reduce the risk of social media addiction and allow you to enjoy the benefits of social media in a more balanced way. If you feel like you are experiencing the negative effects of social media, it is important to take action. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse, so don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.
- Decrease the time you spend on social media. It’s almost impossible to completely cut out social media completely, but you can definitely cut down the time you spend on it. Try setting up a timer to remind you to take a break every so often.
- Find other activities to do with your time. If you’re spending hours a day scrolling through social media, you’re probably not doing anything else. Take this time to do something productive with your life, like reading a book or going for a walk.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s common to compare yourself to others on social media feeds, especially if you feel like your life doesn’t measure up to what’s on your feed. But you have to remember that these are curated images that represent only a small part of a person’s life.
- Disconnect from the Internet completely. While this is not feasible for most people, it can be helpful to completely disconnect from the Internet every once in a while. This gives you time to reflect on your life and reconnect with yourself.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Depression at Lucid Wellness center
If you are suffering from depression, it is important to understand that there are other options aside from drugs. TMS or transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive, drug-free therapy that has been proven to be an effective treatment for patients with major depression. The therapy delivers electromagnetic pulses to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the area responsible for mood regulation. Over time, this stimulation can help your brain produce serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are all chemicals that play a key role in regulating mood. During the process, patients wear a helmet-like device that produces a magnetic field to stimulate the area of the brain responsible for mood regulation. The device is painless and usually only takes about an hour.
TMS is particularly helpful for individuals with severe or treatment-resistant depression. If you are ready to get relief from your cloud of despair, reach out to our staff at Lucid Wellness Center today!