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How Social Media Can Affect Mental Health

People spending too much time on social media

Social media exploded in popularity in the 2010s and has become part of the fabric of American life since. By some estimates, nearly 75% of all Americans and more than 90% of people under 30 use it. In 2020, Americans spent an average of nearly four hours per day using social media.

This rapid lifestyle change has come with some drawbacks, especially for young people. Anxiety and depression are on the rise, and the negative aspects of social media can exacerbate existing mental illness issues. Here are some ways social media can negatively impact your mental health.

Distortion of Reality

Apps such as Instagram and Snapchat allow users to filter their photos to remove any imperfections. Additionally, people tend to post mainly positive aspects of their life, leaving out the negative and creating the illusion of perfection. This can cause the user to feel inadequate or invalid, wondering why their face, body, or life can’t be as great as everyone else’s.

Chasing Likes

Posting a photo of yourself and getting 30 likes and a few positive comments should feel pretty good. That is, until you see your friend posted a photo of his or herself and received 90 likes and a dozen comments. It becomes difficult not to compare yourself to others. This can lead to an unhealthy obsession with getting as many likes as possible.

The Addictive Nature

Most social media apps are designed to keep you coming back for more. Just opening an app on your phone causes a dopamine release, activating the pleasure center of your brain. This keeps you using the app, which might mean you’ll see more things that upset you. Maybe it’ll be something we’ve already mentioned, seeing an opinion you strongly disagree with or spotting a picture of your two best friends hanging out without you. 

Whatever it is, you’re probably not going to put your device away, at least not for long. Some have compared this to the feeling of using a slot machine: you know the result will probably be negative, but you play anyway because of the possibility of something positive happening. In the long term, this can worsen your anxiety and depression.

If social media has you feeling anxious and depressed, it may be wise to seek counseling. Hope Counseling has offered a wide array of counseling services for more than a quarter-century. Our team of psychologists and therapists are ready to help you. Call 863-709-8110 today to learn how you can improve and take care of your mental health!