The Impact of Social Media on Depression: A Comprehensive Guide
Social media permeates every part of modern life, providing platforms for communication, self-expression, and news consumption. It also has potential negative impacts, particularly on mental health. Here's a comprehensive guide on the impact of social media on depression, and my personal thoughts on how it has affected me and also others.
1. The Comparison Trap:
How It Impacts Depression: Social media often showcases highlight reels of people's lives, leading users to compare their everyday reality to others' best moments. This comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy and deepen depressive symptoms.
Leaning on others for edification or dopamine hits from likes on your posts, pictures, or videos has become a sort of emotional currency. I tend to shut down and ignore some of my social media just due to being burned out mentally with trying to keep up with even friends, family, acquaintances, and contacts, some of which I will barely know, but interact with anyway. I don't believe that it is normal to continually seek attribution, recognition, or any other form of validation. It just leaves the person with a need to be constantly happy, or they feel this wild swing in emotion from all of the dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and all the other hormones and neurotropic that exist in our biological makeup.
How to Manage: Limit your time on social media. Practice mindful consumption by acknowledging the tendency to compare and reminding yourself that what you see online often doesn't reflect real-life complexities.
With moderation, it is good to stay connected with friends and family and have some sort of mechanism to measure. How are you compared to others? It tells you and leaves you feeling that you are OK. But too much will give you such a large amount of dopamine and intellectual stimulation that the crash can cause deep depression. This is something I dealt with after chemo, but it wasn't necessarily due to social media as I never really keyed in on keeping up with absolutely everybody all the time.
How It Impacts Depression: Online harassment or bullying can have severe psychological effects, including increased risk for depression.
There are so many people who weren't coached or guided through or taught coping mechanisms for handling people who are just out to be a little the person that simply can't handle it in the first place. And that's why the bullies actually do what they do in the first place in my opinion. It's because they found a weak person and they enjoy being able to bully someone that's below them they feel. In my opinion, this is an incredibly weak personality that leads people to bully in the first place.
I would encourage all parents, all mentors, and anyone else who is involved with helping young children, or young adults, become better people to gain the ability to isolate their opinions of themselves to the effect that people who try to bully them will just fail.
I do look at a few different platforms throughout the day, every three hours or so. The rest of my time is spent writing papers for class, playing a few different games, and attempting to exercise to eliminate my pain. They're older than a few sites that I've been watching and I'm starting to dig into concerning this topic. One is Resources & (hrsa), (2019), and the other is Helping Kids Deal With Bullies (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth (n.d.) The links will be at the end of this article. I believe both of these sites have a good framework for anyone interested in trying to help young adults and children deal with the topic of being bullied and develop the mental resistance that is helpful in that situation.
How to Manage: Use privacy settings to protect your accounts. Report bullying behavior to platform administrators and consider seeking support from trusted individuals or mental health professionals.
3. Social Isolation:
How It Impacts Depression: While social media can connect us, it can also make us feel isolated. Virtual interactions often don't provide the same emotional satisfaction as face-to-face interactions, which can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression. I personally spent several months, not continuously, but in a hospital bed being treated for cancer. And during that time I was visited by friends and family. I was helped by friends and family, but I still felt isolated. I still felt like I was making 100% of my decisions on my own with nobody to support me from friends and family. It seems counterintuitive. They were there for me but the depression still hit me really hard and I sought help.
I even repeatedly asked my doctors for that kind of help as well as numerous requests for help with the pain in my legs which I still deal with now four years later. And at the core of the issue that seemed to be the turning point for me, when I could get help with understanding that I was the same person, but I was cranky. I hadn't changed, but I didn't have the ability to beat the negative feelings that I was feeling without help. So I did get help. And the turning point was realizing that if I can avoid thinking about what is affecting me mood-wise, the depression is less. And then I can concentrate on things that make my mood better. More stable.
How to Manage: Balance your social media use with real-world interactions. Make time for face-to-face meetings with friends and family. There is a physical energy that changes hands when you are in someone's physical presence. It is unlike any remote communication that you can imagine. For me one other thing that does help even though remote is talking to someone on the phone.
Here in Michigan, there is a website and phone number you can call for help, and they pretty much. Just listen to you if you need that if you call. I personally called the number once and they had so much help for me that I was overwhelmed and didn't want to talk to them afterwards. It was kind of a wake-up call that you(I) didn't need that kind of help anymore after talking to them for about 10 minutes and I'm not depressed. Site name, dial 211 or go Find Help - Michigan 2-1-1 (2023) (Link at the end of the article)
4. Information Overload:
How It Impacts Depression: Constant exposure to news and information can lead to feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, particularly if the content is negative. One of the things that I have reduced information-wise from the Internet and TV, and all the sources we can watch is the news. I find that it is incredibly full of everything that is negative and not enough positive. So if I do get something that is newsworthy it is only because I read about it online and it's not because I watched it on a TV show or a stream of sorts from TV.
Instead of watching the news, I tend to read material and books and watch YouTube videos, OK this is my vice probably, I watch a lot of instructional videos on how to for mindset and how to be better at anything that I'm interested in.
How to Manage: Be selective about who you follow and the type of content you engage with. Take breaks from consuming news or content that negatively affects your mood. Also, there's a physical need for people to not stare at a screen for more than two hours at a time. Taking breaks from engaging in an activity online, or watching TV or anything like that, takes a toll on your eyesight physically. And engaging in something that requires your eyes to look at the distance versus something a couple feet or 10 feet in front of you it's beneficial to your eyesight.
5. Sleep Disruption:
How It Impacts Depression: The blue light emitted by devices can interfere with sleep patterns, leading to poor sleep quality, a significant contributor to depression. Andrew Huberman has a nice framework for understanding how sleep helps and how to get better sleep. he even goes into neurochemistry, which I find neat. You can find and enjoy him at several sites on the Internet, here are a few: Andrew Huberman - YouTube (n.d.), Andrew D. Huberman | Stanford Medicine (n.d.), Huberman Lab. (n.d.) And as I'm fond of maintaining consistency, the links are at the end of this article.
I have a few devices that help me measure my sleep quality and timing that also let me know how much oxygen I'm pulling in through pulse ox measurements and what my heart rate variability is. I use the Oura ring as the main source of that and I used to use the Apple Watch for more of that information. But I need to replace my Apple Watch at the moment. I believe there are Fitbit and other resources that can help with sleep, tracking and management. I do have a link that will give you $40 off an Oura ring of any style, it does give me a spiff, but it isn't money, it comes in the form of a subscription and a Warrior mat. The link will be at the end of the article.
How to Manage: Implement a digital curfew an hour or two before bedtime. Use night mode settings to reduce blue light exposure. This also ties into having a strong mental framework to base the fighting of depression and setting desirable habits for yourself to achieve better sleep, and other goals.
6. Social Media Addiction:
How It Impacts Depression: Overuse of social media can lead to addictive behaviors, creating a dependency that can contribute to depression. I probably spent too much time on social media, myself, and there are days that I just disconnected. Stop paying attention to it altogether.
How to Manage: Set clear boundaries for your social media use. Consider using apps that track your usage and set limits. I believe the Android ecosystem has something that can help with managing screen time, but I am positive that the Apple ecosystem has something for that. One of my close friends sets, screen time management through a wireless router, that limits how long his children can be on their devices. And it tracks and limits them by the MAC address of their devices.
7. Negative Self-Perception:
How It Impacts Depression: Seeing carefully curated images can distort self-perception, leading to negative body image and self-esteem, increasing the risk of depression. The reason we have a negative impression of ourselves I believe is how we grew up and what we paid attention to primarily as what is normal. If we see all around us, that durable is better than we can ever imagine ourselves being then we have the beginnings of a negative impression of ourselves.
How to Manage: Follow accounts that promote body positivity and real-life representation. Practice self-love and acceptance. I like, looking for positive people on social media, TikTok, X(formerly Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, among others. I mentioned Andrew Huberman earlier. Jordan Peterson is another.
Social media's impact on mental health is multifaceted, and it's important to use these platforms mindfully. If you find social media is affecting your mood or exacerbating feelings of depression, it may be helpful to discuss this with a mental health professional. They can provide strategies and resources to help navigate these challenges and improve your overall mental health. As an adult, I look at these factors and ways to help myself and then also apply them to the areas in life that I'm involved with.
Andrew Huberman - YouTube. (n.d.) [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/@hubermanlab
Andrew D. Huberman | Stanford Medicine. (n.d.). CAP Profiles. Retrieved August 06, 2023 from https://med.stanford.edu/profiles/andrew-huberman
Find Help - Michigan 2-1-1. (2023). Michigan 2-1-1. Retrieved August 06, 2023 from https://mi211.org/
Helping Kids Deal With Bullies (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth. (n.d.). Retrieved August 06, 2023 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/bullies.html
Huberman Lab. (n.d.). Huberman Lab. Retrieved August 06, 2023 from https://hubermanlab.com/
Resources, H., & (hrsa), S. A. (2019). StopBullying.gov. StopBullying.gov. Retrieved August 06, 2023 from https://www.stopbullying.gov/
Oura ring offer: https://ouraring.com/raf/1da26d613b?utm_medium=iac