The Gift and Curse of Social Media

How Social Media Triggers Depression

Social media is a platform used to connect millions of people all over the world efficiently and quickly. Social media has grown tremendously over the years with several different applications such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to connect people with each other. With the click of a button, one could post a picture, media content or send a direct message. The world has access to social media through their use of smart phones, laptops, tablets and other computer devices. Although social media has so many incredible platforms for positive exposure, career enhancements and networking, it has also created a significant problem in triggering an onset of mental health issues such as depression.

As the popularity of social media continues to rise, depression continues to impact many who spend a great deal of time using the applications. From my own personal experience, spending too much time on social media brought about feelings of inadequacy due to constant self-comparison and a lack of contentment. I realized it was important to monitor the time I spent, what I was looking at and who I was following.

Quite often clients of mine express lack of followers or friends, and time spent viewing the successes of others lead to depression, amplified self esteem issues, and triggered feelings of failure. Young adults and teens are more susceptible to this exposure of depression as so much of their time is spent connecting with friends and associates on social media platforms.

My client, who I shall name “Marie”. Marie is a 14 year old, who spends most of her time in her room on her phone. She starts the day by checking her social media, taking up about 3-5 hours per day catching up on the latest posts from her friends and followers. Marie often finds herself feeling hopeless after seeing how “happy her friends look”, and how her friend’s families “look normal”. Marie’s parents expressed when Marie isn’t focused on her social media, she appears more connected, at peace and happy. Marie started noticing changes in her mood, when her parents brought it to her attention.

Although everyone doesn’t struggle with depression or have an addiction to social media, Marie represents a vast population of people, both young and old who struggle with depression because of excessive and constant social media interaction. The best way to combat the onset of depression due to social media is to create and control the time spent on it. Here are some helpful tips that have helped me, Marie and so many other clients I’ve serviced:

  1. Set a timer (some smart phones can report weekly social media use, set a maximum time per day)
  2. Choose your followers (consider following pages, media or people that will inspire you and motivate you instead of making you compare your life to theirs)
  3. Social media fast (take some time away from the applications sometimes, one day, one week, or even months. Delete it and come back later)
  4. Don’t start your day with viewing social media (find something else to replace the first 30 minutes to an hour of your day. Read, meditate, walk or even drink water)
  5. Be intentional about engaging in outdoor recreational activities without your phone.
  6. Set up game nights with friends and families and implement a no phone use rule.

Take a look at your daily time spent on social media. Is it healthy? Do you feel a decrease in mood after viewing social media? Explore ways on how to minimize depression associated with social media and be intentional about how you practice it! 

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