Is Social Media Making You Lonely & Depressed?Posted: 7th of August 2015 by
Many of us use social media every day as a way to stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues (although maybe not always all three!). It has become a normal part of everyday life for millions around the world and yet there are concerns that social media could actually make you feel lonely and depressed. With young people being among the primary users of social media they seem most at risk, and you may be surprised to hear that a 2010 study found that loneliness was a greater concern for those aged 18-34 than it was for the elderly!
Loneliness is often linked to other mental health issues such as increased stress, depression, paranoia, anxiety, addiction, and cognitive decline. Loneliness is also known to be a factor in suicide, with mental health experts saying that loneliness can both cause and be a result of mental health problems.
So where does social media come into all this?
According to Dr Grant Blank from the Oxford Internet Institute, social media can become a problem when it starts to replace face-to-face contact. Meanwhile, Sam Challis, an information manager at the mental health charity Mind says that constantly comparing ourselves to others online can be damaging, saying, “People present an idealised version of themselves online and we expect to have social lives like those portrayed in the media."
Challis also questioned mindfulness techniques and meditation when it came to fighting loneliness, saying, “You'd be better off addressing the underlying causes of being lonely first – what's stopping you going out and seeing people?"
Of course, there is a flip-side to every argument, and there are those for whom social media is a real blessing. Those who are unable to go out and meet others due to personal circumstances can interact with others online.
It all seems to come down to what other interaction you are having with friends and family. Shutting yourself away and constantly trying to create a perfect online persona is clearly a bad thing, but using social media as an addition to other social activities or to stay in contact with distant friends seems absolutely fine – if not actually beneficial.
Of course, if you do feel genuinely lonely, depressed, anxious, or stressed then you should take steps to address the situation. Speak with a friend you trust, visit your doctor, or tell a family member. A lot of people find that just talking through their feelings makes them feel a lot better. However, don’t try and suffer in silence – there is no shame in getting help if you need it, That would be like refusing to go to hospital if you broke your leg – if something needs fixing it is only right to get it done.
However, when it comes to social media, it seems that too much can be a bad thing – so make sure to arrange to meet up with friends and family face-to-face regularly too! Some of the friends you make now may be with you for the rest of your life – ensuring that when you do get old you have some others around you!
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