It’s hard to imagine a world without social media. According to Social Media Today, the average person spends at least three hours on social media every day – almost as much time spent on eating and drinking, socializing, and grooming! All this social media time can negatively impact on our mental health causing anxiety, feelings of envy and even depression.
Social media anxiety disorder is a mental health condition similar to social anxiety disorder, the most common mental health disorders in the United States. If you already have a social anxiety disorder or depression, overuse of social media may make your symptoms worse.
Networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can positively impact our lives, but they can also lead to mental health issues including anxiety, loneliness, and feelings of isolation. A large amount of time spent on social media can also negatively impact our personal relationships with family and friends.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, some of the most common symptoms of social media anxiety disorder are:
- Being with a group of friends and interrupting the conversation to tell them that someone has commented on their/your social media post
- Removing yourself from a social situation with family or friends to check what has been happening on social media
- Constantly checking your social media account for comments on your posts
- Randomly adding strangers to your social media accounts
- Spending 8 or more hours a day on a social media
- Feeling a sense of attachment to your phone or computer, as if nothing else matters
- Increased anxiety when comments are not made and pictures are not posted/tagged
- Checking your number of followers and constantly finding opportunities to increase followers
Awareness of your behaviors can help you live with social media anxiety disorder. If you’re using social media a lot, take a moment to check how it may be affecting your mood and emotions. This can help you identify if you need to cut back on social media. If it’s making you feel anxious, isolated or depressed, consider limiting your time on social media.
Reframing your perspective when looking at social media can also help your mental well-being and reduce anxiety. It’s helpful to remember that the updates and the photos you see only tell one side of the story.
Most importantly, enjoy your real life, not just your social media “life”. Make time to enjoy activities with family and friends outside of social media.
If you are having trouble dealing with your social media anxiety, there are therapists and counselors that can help online and in-person.