Mental Well-Being: Social Media and Mental Health
Jan 19, 2022
According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of Americans use social media. While social media can be helpful to build a sense of community, which is important in recovery, there are some negative consequences of spending too much time online. Here are some reasons to be mindful of the time you spend on social media and the impact it can have on recovery.
Social media can negatively affect mental health.
Excessive social media use has been connected to increased rates of depression and anxiety, especially in adolescents. While research is still exploring the reasons social media affects mental health, there are some straightforward ways social media may harm mental well-being.
- Comparing yourself to others. Many people on social media only show the good parts of their lives, leading some followers to believe they have the perfect life. Unfortunately, this causes people to idealize others and unfairly judge themselves in comparison, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and inadequacy.
- You feel like you’re missing something. Fear of missing out (or FOMO), is a common concern for social media users. Almost everyone has looked at a friend’s social media page and felt left out if they weren’t invited to something special. This feeling can be especially harmful for individuals in recovery who see friends participating in activities they once enjoyed. Because addiction is a disease of loneliness, FOMO and the depression it can cause can put recovery at risk.
- It’s easy to focus on the negative. More than 50% of Americans get news from social media. Because many people spend hours at a time online, they’re exposed to news (often bad news) more frequently. Spending large amounts of time online reading negative news is called “doomscrolling” and it can lead to mental health impacts like anxiety or depression.
Social media can become an addiction.
Social media can be addictive and many people spend a significant amount of time online each day. In fact, Americans spent more than an average of 1,300 hours on social media last year. Social media is a helpful tool but it’s easy for the lines to blur into an unhealthy addiction.
Receiving praise on social media can cause similar feelings to those people with substance use disorder experience when they feel a dopamine high. These euphoric feelings can make it easy to create an addiction to positive social media engagements and can cause some individuals in recovery to replace one unhealthy habit with another.
Although there are drawbacks to social media, it’s still a great way to stay connected to loved ones and create a support network. To prevent social media use from becoming unhealthy, it’s important to find a balance. Limit your use of social media and avoid using it before going to sleep at night. It’s also important to make sure you’re strengthening relationships and building support systems offline while recognizing that not everything you see online is what it seems.
If you or someone you know needs help for an addiction, call 833-505-4673 today.