Social media can play a large and often important role in our lives, but it can also feed right into the unhappy feelings that those suffering from depression are experiencing.
For some, social media can almost take over their lives, to the point where they are continuously connected, and while others may able to cope perfectly well with this and not experience any unwanted or negative emotions as a result, others may feel overwhelmed and inadequate.
The negative cycle of social media:
Spending long periods of time on any social media platform naturally takes you away from performing other activities that may be better for your physical and mental well-being. Exercise and meeting up with friends are just two examples of such activities, but there is a wealth of other life-affirming things that being attached to social media can prevent you from doing.
Some of the negative consequences stemming from a dependence on social media are as follows:
- Since much of our dependence begins in isolation, social media can encourage us to feel or remain alone.
- Your own thoughts can take over, and you may get lost inside your mind and become less in tune with the world around you
- Chat rooms, especially those with people who may act unkindly, can have a devastating effect upon anyone who isn’t confident with themselves or who may suffer from a mental illness such as depression, since unkind words often prompt negative thoughts and feelings
- Your beliefs can be shaped by the ideas on a screen instead of being shaped by coming to know yourself in a caring way, leaving you finding it ever more difficult to process information in a healthy way
How social media may not always be what it seems:
It’s easy for others to portray their lives on social media, as being wonderful and full of joy and success, when the complete life narrative may be entirely different. However, for the person viewing social media, what they see is often what they believe, and if you start comparing yourself or your life to the perceived perfect life of someone on social media, then this can lead you to minimize the positives of your own life and feel sad and, over time, depressed.
Social media and face-to-face interactions:
For those battling depression, speaking and dealing with people in person is vital in helping to maintain healthy relationships both with others and yourself, and to give you a much truer perspective of life than social media can ever give you. Scientific research has long shown that the brain’s stress response decreases when you’re able to talk about things with others, instead of letting everything build up and magnify in your head.
Giving yourself new boundaries:
Be honest with yourself about why you’re using social media, and how often you need to access it. Ask yourself if there are other positive things that you want to be doing and recognize how being on social media may sometimes make you feel. You may not need to cut out social media altogether, but you might try reducing or limiting the amount of time that you spend on it.
What you should (of course) be doing is celebrating the wonderful person that you are, not envying the person that someone else portrays themselves to be on social media. Easier said than done sometimes! But certainly not beyond your reach.