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How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health

Many of us remember the time when a boredom still existed. No-internet time. No-social media time. In our highly technological world today, we are surrounded by devices and information at any given moment of our daily lives and have nospare time to relax and simply do nothing.

How much time during your day or/and night you spend thoughtlessly scrolling through your social media feeds, liking, sharing, tweeting, and updating? Let's be honest, most of us use every spare moment to check out our social media platforms - those moments we used to chat to another person, read a book or enjoy a view at the beach in our pre-social media lives.

No matter where you are - at your home, at the office, coffee shop, exotic beach, mounting lodge, subway, airport or a shopping mall…you are always connected.

One review study showed that people who use social networks excessively tend to neglect their personal life, withdraw and spend their daytime daydreaming, and experience frequent mood swings. In addition, they are likely to conceal their addictive behavior.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has warned about cyberbullying and "Facebook depression" as serious negative effects social media has on children and teens. However, the same risks affect adults as well.

Here are some examples of how social media can be damaging to your mental health.

1. Social Media Promotes Social Isolation and Loneliness

Despite the belief that you're socializing with a great number of people while browsing your social media feeds, studies show that social media use actually leads to greater feelings of social isolation. One study results indicate that more time people spend on social media, the more socially isolated these people perceived themselves to be.

Thousands of friends on social media don't necessarily mean you are more social and have a richer social life. One study has found that there seems to be a certain cap on the number of friends each of us can handle. Moreover, it takes actual social interaction, not virtual, to keep up our friendships.

A recent survey that sampled 20,000 people 18-24 years old showed that young people are experiencing feelings of extreme isolation and loneliness, with 49 percent of them reporting sometimes or always feeling alone while 43 percent feeling their relationships are not meaningful. At the same time, 47 percent of young people are feeling left out.

As we all know, loneliness is linked to numerous mental health problems.

The false impression of connection that we get from social media seems to be increasing our loneliness. Through our online-filtered lives, we share some of the most intimate moments with thousands, millions of digital friends. Yet, we are forgetting how to have a meaningful conversation with a colleague at the office.

The constant pressure to filter and put a façade on our lives, simultaneously comparing our own with other people's wonderful destinies presented in social media leads to feelings of profound isolation, anxiety, and depression.

2. Social Media Negatively Affects Your Self-Esteem

Compared to all those wonderful, beautiful, active people who seem to constantly be traveling the world, meeting new friends, staying at expensive hotels, and driving fancy cars, your life seems so small, dull, and unimportant.

Remember, social media is not real life. Don't fall in a trap of comparing your real life to someone else's controlled online content.

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media have a negative effect on our expectations and values, our self-esteem and overall mental well-being. One survey of 1,500 people found that social media platforms make half of them feel inadequate and interactive.

According to another survey, 60 percent of people who use social media report that social media affects their self-esteem in a negative way.

Instagram feeds loaded with filtered images of attractive, happy people many times hide the emotional struggle and mental health issues. The pressure to look perfect and impress others leads to pretending that your life is more glamorous and exciting than it is.

Furthermore, the gap between who you are pretending to be online and who you really are can trigger feelings of depression and frustration. In addition, it can make it harder to accept the less-perfect version you really are and seriously affect your self-assurance.

3. Social Media Provokes Anxiety and Depression

A study published in Computers and Human Behavior found that people who excessively use social media platforms (three or more platforms) are more than three times as likely as people using up to two platforms to develop high levels of general anxiety symptoms such as feelings of restlessness and worry, and trouble concentrating and sleeping.

Similarly, another survey involving 1,700 people found the link between the use of social media platforms and the risk of anxiety and depression. The researchers find the reasons for this in cyber-bullying, a distorted picture of other people's lives, and feeling that the time spent on social media is a waste.

In addition, research has found that spending nights surrounded by artificial lighting can inhibit the body's production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us fall asleep.

However, social media has brought myriad advantages to our lives and cannot be considered as a universally bad thing. It definitely affects people differently, depending on personality traits and previous experiences.

If you are concerned that social media sites negatively impact your life, we can talk about that. Please visit https://www.clopanetherapy.com/ for more information. 

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