Social media is convenient, entertaining, and downright addictive, but it can also be a detriment to your mental health. If you suffer from depression, spending time on social media could be making your symptoms worse. In this discussion, we’ll take a closer look at the emotional effects of social media and how you can overcome them through depression therapy.
How Your Brain Responds to Social Media
Let’s take a moment to explain how your brain reacts to social media. Every time you get a notification, alike, a message, etc., your brain emits a small dose of dopamine. That is the same ‘happy chemical’ that is released from smoking cigarettes or gambling. The more you experience that release of dopamine, the more you want it. This is a natural response because it feels good – or at least it does temporarily.
The problem is that your brain starts to become greedy. It chases the high it felt from that first notification, causing you to spend more time scrolling, posting, and drowning in an online world. It’s like an insatiable hunger. Your mind craves the attention that comes from social media, but it never feels fully satisfied. That is the primary reason why social media leads to depression. It’s not just a mental experience. It’s a physical one. Learning to control your time online will prevent the physical side effects from turning into emotional turmoil.
Why Social Media May Make Your Depression Worse
Here are some of the reasons why social media fuels depression:
- You compare your life to a filtered version of everyone else’s life. You may feel bad because you think someone is living a better life than you, but you only see what they want you to see. That is not an accurate depiction of reality.
- You rank your self-worth and success based on likes, views, and other measurements. These metrics should not define your happiness though. You should.
- You become self-critical. You’re suddenly examining your life through a microscope because you have to take the perfect selfie or post the perfect food picture. Rather than admiring your positive traits, you focus on the flaws.
- You waste time, making you feel unproductive. The days seem to fly by because you spend hours scrolling through feeds on your phone. If you do not accomplish what you need to in the day, the stress will start to take over.
- You isolate yourself from the people around you. Even if you are hanging out with friends or family members, your mind is elsewhere. The second you unlock your phone screen, you mentally leave the room and miss out on the memories within it. Over time, that isolating experience will make you feel depressed and alone.
You Can Still Use Social Media in Moderation
There are plenty of benefits to social media. Sites/apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat allow you to stay connected to people you may not get to see often. You can communicate with people hundreds of miles away, and you can create a time capsule of memories to look back on in the future.
The key is to use social media in moderation. Limit your social media usage to one device (only your phone, only your home computer, etc.). Set a timeframe each day when you’re allowed to check your social media accounts. It might be right when you wake up in the morning, during your lunch break, and a 30-minute span after you get home from work. Don’t check your accounts outside of those timeframes. Once you get in the habit of using social media sparingly, you’ll be able to live in the moment, no matter what you’re doing.
Getting Help for Your Depression
Controlling your social media time is only one element of depression treatment. There are many other potential causes and catalysts for depression. If you can identify those causes, you change the way you respond to them. That’s when you will truly start to feel relief.
The best way to do this is through a depression treatment program like the ones we offer at our Michigan counseling centers. We can set you up with a depression therapist who will provide professional, unbiased advice to help you overcome depression. You will get the tools you need to improve your quality of life, and you will have a trusted support system every step of the way. Contact Oakland Psychological Clinic to schedule an appointment for depression treatment in Michigan.