How many times a day do you check Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter? The answer is probably, too much. It is no longer a secret that social media can make you feel anxious, lonely and inferior. The constant stream of people’s highlights can even cause a so-called, social media depression. So, maybe you should put the phone down or close your laptop, after you read this article of course!
What is depression?
Before we start looking at what a social media depression is, we first have to define what a ‘normal’ depression is (if such a thing exists). A clinical depression or otherwise called major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by a non-stop feeling of sadness. And on the other hand a loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities. People with depression have difficulties with concentration, sleeping, eating and routines.
Psychotherapy and medication are some of the treatments for depression. Limiting time on social media and prioritizing real-world connections can be beneficial to mental health.
What is social media depression?
“Social media depression” is a relatively new term used to describe feelings of anxiety, loneliness and envy or a lack of interaction due to the use of social media platforms. It is only used informally at this time and currently not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, this doesn’t mean that it is not a real issue.
What causes social media depression?
Yes, you read that last line correctly. Limiting time on social media can be beneficial to mental health. Because let’s be honest, if we take a real look at all the content we are consummating on a daily level, what do we see?
Positive vibes only
Instagram for instance, chances are that when you open the app you see one of your friends that is on vacation and living his best life. Or you see another friend buying their first house, getting married or even starting a family while you are sitting on your couch on a saturday night!
Or take a look at LinkedIn for example. Everybody is enjoying their jobs and reaching new highs every week! They seem to have it all figured out while you haul yourself out of bed every morning for your nine to five to get coffee for your boss.
All these people on social media only show the highlights of their life and it is not weird that this makes you envy their life and makes you question everything about yours. What you don’t see is that that one friend in Bali lost his passport and doesn’t even have money to get home, or that the newborn was actually an accident. All these highlights are a factor in the so-called social media depression.
Always turned on
Next to this there is another factor that is crucial in the cause of social media depression and that is the constant flow of notifications. If you take a look at your Instagram settings, there are over 15 triggers for notifications, 15! And that is only instagram!
You can imagine what it is like when you have 4 or 5 social media platforms on your phone, how can you even do something other than scrolling? All these apps fight for your attention and that’s why they send you so many notifications. And because of this, we can’t focus on one thing because switching between tasks takes your brain between 1 and 20 minutes!
A few facts about social media and depression:
- More than half of the world’s population is actively using social networking sites that produce content non-stop, most of which is negative.
- People who check out social media late at night are more likely to feel depressed and unhappy, according to a study that was published in 2018 by Lancet.
- People who feel envy while on social media are more likely to develop symptoms of depression, according to a study that was published in 2015.
What can you do about it now?
Simply put, stop using social media. Alright, that is not as simple as it sounds, I know. However, there are a few things you can do to take the first steps, and those are not too difficult.
Buy an alarm clock
One of the first things you should do is avoid social media in the morning. When your alarm goes off and you grab your phone, Instagram is only one click away! And before you know it, you have been scrolling for 15 minutes and are already late.
Stop using your phone as an alarm clock and don’t keep it next to your bed at night. Charge it in your living room, if you don’t have one, just place it on the other side of the room. Instead, buy an old school alarm clock! This way, you take away the ease to open a social media app and need to get out of bed if you want your phone.
Set up screen time
Almost all the smartphones have this functionality built in but only few people use it. Set up screen time for apps you use too much. This way you can’t access the app anymore if you use it too much!
Turn off notifications
Last but not least, turn off all your notifications. Choose when you want to answer people and stop getting distracted every 5 minutes. This will take some time to get used to but after a while, you won’t even miss all these notifications!
Read more about social media and its impact!