In the short time that social media has existed, it has contributed tremendously to our political and social discourse as well as changed the way we communicate and process information. In some cases, however, social media has been found to negatively impact our mental health, producing anxiety and depression. But there are mental illness treatments available to help deal with the negative repercussions of digital platforms.

The History of Social Media

MySpace kicked off the advent of online profile websites in the early 2000s, later giving birth to Facebook. From there came Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat amongst thousands of other platforms that dominate our culture today. No matter how different the interface of each, most platforms serve the same purpose. They allow one the capability to communicate via photos or words to make relationships, friendships, and networks.

Businesses can create an account to advertise and any individual can state his or her opinions on virtually anything.Most organizations have a social media presence to engage with their audiences and many people actually get their news from online accounts. While there are privacy settings, a lot of content on social media is for public consumption and usually never disappears even if a user deletes it.

Social Media and Mental Illness

Many users on social media are able to log in and out without any difficulty. But there are some who do experience stress and nerves from the process to the point where it has become recognized as a legitimate disorder. Social media anxiety is a mental illness and very similar to social anxiety disorder. This make sense as most people’s social lives are now existing entirely online, especially with the creation of dating applications like Tinder and Bumble that mimic social media formatting. Anxiety disorders are currently the most common mental disorder in this country, so this is a formidable issue that needs to be addressed with mental illness treatment. With time there will only be more technology within our grasps to produce greater anxiety and depression from usage. Thus, it is necessary for us all to learn how to have a proper balance when using social media and technology in our own lives.

So where is the anxiety and depression coming from? A lot of people are finding validation from other users online liking their pictures or verbal posts. They tie their physical attractiveness to how people respond to pictures and rate the value of their thoughts on the reactions to it. Others base their worth on having large followings, as numbers have come to symbolize influence and power. There are people who experience significant doubt figuring out what to post since it will be public and forever stay in their online history.

Studies have shown that almost 20% of social media users cannot last more than three hours without checking their phones. This is where social media anxiety comes from. Just being away from their accounts for a little while can cause major anxiety. Feeling as though one’s own lifestyle, as portrayed on social media, does not compare to what others are posting can lead to depression. Depression also comes with social isolation for the people that feel they are being left out on social media and not engaged with. Here are some symptoms of social media anxiety disorder:

  • Checking social media while in the middle of a conversation
  • Withdrawing from friends and family in favor of social media
  • Lying about how much time is spent on the platforms
  • Failure to reduce time spent on social media accounts
  • Neglecting personal and professional obligations and going online
  • Loss of interest in activities that were formerly enjoyable
  • A compulsive need to share and post things on social media
  • Experiencing withdrawal when not on social networking sites

Looking at the above list, it is clear that social media has become addictive by nature and impacts people’s mental health. As with all addictions, mental illness treatment is still here to help.

Mental Illness Treatment

Anxiety and depression are very common nowadays. This makes sense as our lives are moving at a faster pace than ever before. With working hours increasing and people traveling more, there are added stressors in our lives today that give people more tension, anxiety, and depression. Social media was created as a means of amplifying one’s social life, allowing them greater contact with a wider group of individuals that would otherwise be unreachable. However, these platforms have now contributed to the rise of mental illness in the United States as they separate more than unite.

Approximately 18.5% of adults in this country are dealing with mental illness, while 4% have a debilitating one that gets in the way of living a normal, productive life. In addition, almost one in four youths from age thirteen to eighteen have a mental disorder at some point in their lives with anxiety and depression the most prevalent. It is not far-fetched to consider that, especially within the younger demographic, social media is beginning to account for many of these cases of mental illness.

Despite social media’s popularity, and there being awareness of how addictive technology can be, many believe that mental illness stemming from social media is impossible. Despite that and the stigma around mental health, mental illness treatment is still offered by providers like Sunlight Recovery. Treatment for social media anxiety disorder is needed, however patients will have to take on the cost themselves because insurance companies and healthcare providers are not likely to recognize it as a legitimate affliction.

One type of mental illness treatment would be to attend a facility specifically catered to technology abuse. At such centers, people are often banned from using devices. Instead they are encouraged to speak to other patients directly to redevelop the in-person social skills that social media had deprived them of. In addition, there are usually amenities from sports areas to recreation rooms that act as distractions from social media.

Many mental illness treatment programs will actually teach patients to have controlled use of social media rather than to completely reject it. These rehabilitation initiatives understand that social media is here to stay and there is no reason to force people into full abstinence as that leads to greater chance of relapse. Anyone who is a functioning person in society needs a cell phone for both professional and personal obligations, and applications on those phones are one step to social media. Therefore, patients are taught to see social media as a fun tool rather than serious measure of self-worth and social approval.

It has been said that to make social media addiction less prominent and to reduce the feelings of anxiety and depression that come with it, there needs to be established rules that ban technology and social media in certain public places. This includes on the job, logging into accounts in restaurants or bars, and limiting the constant access to the internet that children in school have. This way, social media is more manageable as it will not be accessible in every single location.

Contact Sunlight Recovery

No one knows where the future of social media lies, as it is rapidly evolving. One thing is for sure, however. The internet is reaching more and more people who are increasingly creating an online presence for themselves. Each platform is continuing to bring us even closer together for a variety of purposes. However, as social media becomes more intertwined with your personal life, it is important to keep your mental health in check as social media does often induce some problems. If you or someone you know wants to find out more about the possible dangers of social media and mental illness treatment, contact Sunlight Recovery at 844-426-0790. Our team of counselors are available 24/7 to take your call and answer any questions you may have.