Can Social Media Contribute to Depression?

upset man on computer

Thanks to social media like FaceBook or Twitter, connecting with people is easier than ever. With one click of the mouse, you can chat with a new friend or share news with a large group of people. Communication is instant.

Sounds great. What could be better?

According to recent studies, however, time spent on social media can lead to depression and anxiety.

Why is this?

Well, it’s easy to use social media. No sooner have you logged onto your computer, when you log onto FaceBook. According to one study 70% of users log on every time they start up their computer and on average 6.1 times a day. It’s automatic and habit-forming. Some would go so far as to say it can become an addiction.

When you use social media you create an internet image. It’s a kind of cyber self if you will. You want to put out to the world a positive self. You put your best foot forward. People are reluctant to share negative emotions or experiences. A recent study showed only 38% of the people being studied shared negative feelings or events in their lives. So what you see on social media can be very skewed. You might be tempted to apply others’ seemingly happy successful images and begin to apply them to your own lives and self identity. Your FaceBook time can lead to disappointment, even anxiety, about your job status, your achievements, your physical image, and your relationships.

The accumulation of “friends” on FaceBook is also misleading. You might see other people on FaceBook with many friends and conclude they’re more likeable and more successful than you. Social media might be landing you in a place of anxiety and depression.

So what do you do? Well there are ways to deal with this:

Unplug Yourself

Refrain from social media activity. Take some time every day to turn off your computer or web reader.

Get Distracted

Maybe you’re bored and the lure of Facebook is overwhelming. You need distraction. Enjoy some tech-free time doing something you enjoy. Get busy in the kitchen and try cooking a new dish. Grab a book or a magazine and read for a bit. Contact a friend you haven’t spoken with for awhile and have a chat. Soak in a warm bath. Or cross off something on your “to do list” like vacuuming the floor or getting a load of laundry done. The point is to disconnect yourself from the cyber world and return to the real world of your home and life, where you can develop as a person, experience tangible rewards and physically connect with people and things.

Gain Perspective

You’re feeling really low about your life, your job or your family. Maybe you need to take a closer look at the images or words you’ve seen on social media. Change your outlook. Often what you see is not the whole truth. For every glowing report or picture, there’s probably a negative photo as well. For every accomplishment someone posts, there could be an equally embarrassing experience they’ve had as well. No person has a perfect life devoid of failures or disappointments.

Avoid Negativity

Don’t let that train of negative thoughts get out of the station. You need to accept the negative thoughts as just that: thoughts. Don’t allow them to become reality. Write them down and face what you’re feeling.

Focus on your own positive qualities, talents and abilities. Comparing yourself to images and comments on social media is fruitless as they don’t represent people in a realistic and complete way.

Take a look at your thinking : Are you exaggerating or over-generalizing and looking at yourself unfavourably with no real evidence? Are you overlooking the positive side?

Remember to breathe and calm your body. You need to help yourself physically to deal with negative stress.

Find a task to do that’s meaningful or positive or even inspiring. Maybe keep a book of inspirational quotes hand. Make yourself a hot cup of your favourite tea and relax. Listen to a song you love and recharge.

You’re not without a way out of the FaceBook blues. Your first step might be to turn off the source and stop visiting social media, at least for awhile. Connect to a new source, get some perspective and check in with yourself again. Make a “friend” with yourself and work on your real life profile, your real time life page.

Sign up for my newsletter: Free to be Me: Recovery from Addiction and Codependency and get your free report: “10 Ways to Prevent the Dreaded Relapse” at http://www.ginavanderham.com/newsletter-subscribe.

Sign up for my newsletter, Free to be Me: Recovery from Addiction and Codependency and get your free copy of “10 Ways to Prevent the Dreaded Relapse”

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