Social media and Mental health

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Mental health is very important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. It is associated with disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. It includes depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenic psychosis, eating disorders and addictive behavior. Numerous things can trigger mental illness and excessive use of social media is one of them. In recent years, a significant increase in the use of social media has been observed. In 2020, there was an estimated 3.8 billion social media users worldwide, representing half the global population. In 2015 it was observed that nearly half of the sample of psychiatric patients were social media users. The increasing reliance on social media puts a large number of people at an increased risk for feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely, envious, and even ill over social media use. Study author Phil Reed said, “We have known for some time that people who are over-dependent on digital devices report feelings of anxiety when they are stopped from using them, but now we can see that these psychological effects are accompanied by actual physiological changes.” The more we use social media, the less happy we seem to be. If we talk about stress, the use of social media distracts people from their work. Social media addiction keeps us engaged with mobile phones and this results in lack of interest in our routine chores.  Part of this use of social media makes people feel socially isolated i.e., detached from their family members. Social media is a tool of comparison. One can easily fall into the trap of comparing itself to others as we scroll through our feeds, and make judgments about how we measure up. One study looked at how we make comparisons to other’s posts, in “upward” or “downward” directions that is, feeling that we’re either better or worse off than our friends or social media influencer. It turned out that both types of comparisons made people feel worse, which is surprising. Not only upward comparison but the downward is also influencing the mental health of users. It’s no secret that the comparison factor in social media leads to jealousy, most people will admit that seeing other people’s tropical vacations, lifestyle, perfect married life and perfectly behaved kids is envy-inducing. Studies have certainly shown that social media use triggers feelings of jealousy. Many social media users have been victimized by negative comments or posts. Importantly, cyberbullying shows a detrimental impact on mental health in the form of increased depressive symptoms as well as worsening of anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, cyberbullying excessively impacts females as reflected in a national survey of adolescents in the USA, where females were twice as likely to be victims of cyberbullying compared with males. Most studies report cross-sectional associations between cyberbullying and symptoms of depression or anxiety though one longitudinal study in Switzerland found that cyberbullying contributed to significantly greater depression over time. On the other hand, social media uses lead towards loneliness which become the reason of anxiety and stress. Sharing endless selfies as well as your innermost thoughts on social media can create an unhealthy self-centeredness that causes you to focus on constructing your online image rather than making memories with your friends and family members in real life. Ultimately, the lack of positive feedback online can lead to self-doubt and self-hatred. If you’re spending a significant amount of time on social media and you’re beginning to notice feelings of sadness, dissatisfaction, frustration, and loneliness that are impacting your life and your relationships, it may be time to re-evaluate your online habits. If you find that even after adjusting your social media use, you’re still experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it’s important to talk with your doctor so that you can be evaluated. There is one thing to keep in mind, Don’t let yourself to compare with the strangers. They may appear to be happy and look like they are having a good life, but we need to understand that life is not what you see in the photos, every one has their happy moments and the sad ones too, it is a fact that people go through some sort of struggle in their life every now and then. So we must not forget that life is far more complex than what is being portrayed on the social media platforms, and we should not become prey to it.

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