Nowadays, our world is awash in social media. It’s the way we get our news, generally the most used apps on our phones, and the first sites we visit when we fire up a computer. It may be tempting to think of social media as harmless and not something we need to worry about controlling. But when it comes to the relationship between social media and mental health, it’s important to know how social media affects your brain and how you can protect yourself against overuse.
If you or someone you know uses social media to the point that it has negatively impacted their mental health, help is just a phone call away. Contact South Tampa Psychiatry at 866.273.5017 to learn how we can support you.
Isn’t Social Media Positive?
At first glance, social media may look innocent. We use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with friends, meet new people, and stay connected in an increasingly online world. However, your brain depends on real-world connections. In fact, digital contact and relationships fail to trigger certain positive hormones in your brain the way in-person engagement does. These hormones contribute to your health and happiness. One significant side effect of social media, even though it may sound counterintuitive, is increased loneliness and isolation.
Beyond feelings of isolation, multiple scientific studies have drawn links between overuse of social media and increased chances to develop depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Like many other new tools, social media isn’t all bad. It can connect you to social causes, keep you informed, or serve as a creative outlet. But it’s essential to use this tool in moderation because social media side effects are real and should not be discounted.
Social Media and Depression
Many studies have explored the relationship between social media and mental health. The majority of studies find a correlation between social media use and decreased mental wellbeing. At the same time, it is notable that rates of depression have increased alongside the increase in smartphone usage.
Social media, like smartphones, is used at the highest rates among teens. The teenage years also happen to be a life stage that sees the onset of mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Another aspect of social media usage particularly relevant to teens is perceived social isolation and a fear of missing out. Both social isolation and a fear of missing out are often influenced by teens’ exposure to a highly curated social media feed that may not reflect the realities of everyday life. This influence can quickly contribute to depression.
Protecting Against Social Media Overuse
Maintaining a healthy relationship with social media is possible. To avoid overusing social media and experiencing the side effects that accompany overuse, fostering real-life connections is critical. Beyond developing those real-life connections, other suggestions for preventing overuse and potential addiction to social media include:
- Implementing healthy coping mechanisms for stress that go beyond social media use
- Promoting your psychological wellbeing through exercise and spending time outdoors
- Connecting to your social environment in non-digital ways
- Considering a digital detox where you disconnect from social media for a while
- Alter your living space or routine to decrease digital dependence, such as removing apps from your phone or keeping your smartphone out of your bedroom
Try emphasizing a healthy relationship with social media and shifting your attention to real-life human connections. As a result of this practice, you will be much less likely to overuse social media.
Seek Support at South Tampa Psychiatry
South Tampa Psychiatry is here to support you or someone you love in decreasing their dependence on social media. Doing so can mean living a life of fullness and authentic human connection. Reach out to us online or at 866.273.5017 to learn more about how our expert psychiatrists and mental health specialists can support your mental health.