The use of social media has increased tenfold with the growth of smart technology and the ease of access to the internet. Without a doubt, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter have all made it easy for people to interact effortlessly and seamlessly without being restricted by regional borders. The sharing of ideas is more convenient now than it has ever been.
But there is a twist in the plot: Studies show that social media is leading many people towards depression and loneliness. Social media users tend to sleep less; they are hyperactive, they struggle to be attentive and are more vulnerable to social pressure than those who don’t have social media accounts.
Although no study has provided a conclusive analysis as to whether social media can cause depression, there is definitely an observable correlation between the two. However, for people who struggle with depression and believe one cause could be the overuse of social media, there is life coaching available that can help them overcome this issue.
4 ways social media leads to depression
Increased feelings of social isolation
The more time you spend on the internet (and that includes social media), the more socially isolated you become.
Offline social networks that involve activities such as community work, playing together, interacting in church and telling tales around a campfire (among others) encourage people to be closer together and share their common problems.
Social media isn’t anything like that. Users talk with faraway friends and neglect those around them. And because the circle of ‘friends’ is usually in remote locations, no one is physically there for one another in case of a crisis.
Having many virtual friends on social media isn’t a substitute for having real friends. That type of virtual existence leads to deeper social isolation.
The comparison factor
Browsing through social media can potentially ruin your self-esteem and confidence because it appears that everyone out there is doing better than you in all aspects of life.
Everyone seems happier than you; they’re in a better relationship than you, they love their job more in comparison to you, and have all the good things in life. That virtual ‘comparison mentality’ leads to depression in more people than real-life comparison does.
Research also shows that people get depressed when they feel like their social media friends are doing worse than they are. This form of comparison often makes people feel better about themselves in real life, but it appears to be different in social media spheres.
It seems like social media ‘friends’ feel better when they are all at the same social level, maybe because they are able to engage more productively that way.
Envy and jealousy
After comparing your life with that of your ‘friends’ on social media, you will envy them if they seem to be happier and better off than you are. If that envy is not controlled quickly enough, it often grows into jealousy.
This is a very unhealthy situation, as you can easily become a hater. Sometimes you will be tempted to post jealousy-inducing content on your pages in order to challenge your ‘friends’. And if a friend gets equally jealous, chances are, he or she will post a photo or a story that will induce jealousy in you.
Eventually, you will have a group of jealous friends trying to outdo one another in a vicious cycle of malice. Plus, if you feel as though your content isn’t causing enough jealousy, you can easily become depressed.
A normal adult should sleep for at least six hours a night. This is almost impossible now, because people are chatting online for hours. People are even waking up in the middle of the night to check how their posts are doing.
Sleep deprivation can cause depression in many ways, as demonstrated by these three common examples:
- Your colleagues in the workplace are sleep-deprived just like you, so everyone is tired and unhappy. The office stays moody for the entire day, aggravating your loneliness.
- Sleep deprivation affects how your body responds to workday activities. If you love the gym, for example, poor sleep will lower your enthusiasm for your workout and diminish your results.
- Poor sleep lowers your immune system. If you become sick, you may get stressed out and hate your life, and that isn’t good for your mental health.
Seek help if necessary
While scientists and psychologists are still trying to figure out if and how social media relates to the sudden rise of depression among today’s youth, it is important that you seek help if you are seeing any signs of depression and loneliness within yourself.