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Is Social Media Linked to Depression?

todayApril 21, 2017 7

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By Alexandra Cochran
Blog Content Contributor

Social media is a 21st century invention and practically a new concept to this world. It’s also proven that social media is a huge distraction and affects the ways that we socialize and communicate on a daily basis. But can we reverse its affects when it takes over our mental health?

It all started when I forced myself to delete Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I woke up feeling uplifted and more focused on myself. Is this how life is without the influence of social media? Not only does constantly checking your phone contribute to the higher number of headaches you get, it’s also associated with stress, sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression among both men and women. I also personally know a few people who occasionally delete social media when they have to focus on work or school. Knowing this, we know that social media can really affect our personal health.

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What we consume on social media impacts our mood and behavior. Image by Alexandra Cochran.

I do love social media because it keeps me connected to my friends across state lines and also helps me promote my work. It’s tough to unravel what exactly could trigger depressed moods within us when we pay too much attention to our phones but it wasn’t until just the other day that I personally experienced an emotional breakdown. I woke up and didn’t want to leave my bed, couldn’t get into the shower, couldn’t come up with a good enough reason to go to class, and felt and overflow of emotions like I wasn’t happy about anything I was doing for myself lately. But this didn’t make any sense because I truly have everything I need: an amazing and supportive partner, college education, the opportunity to write for my college’s blog, parents and siblings who call weekly just to talk.  And if anyone knows me well, they know I’m usually silly, caring, and hungry for opportunities. So why was I feeling so low about myself?

The amount of time we spend on social media totally reflects our mood. The people we follow on these sites usually portray a life of happiness and fortune and we can mislead ourselves when we compare our daily pattern of studying and attending class everyday to people who are traveling, spending money, and enjoying the weather outside. It’s hard to explain why I would compare my life but it’s important to recognize that no one, not even those who are considered successful, have it together. Social media is a place where people post both raw and real information or spend time spewing a constant image of someone they can’t be 24/7. Whether they’re convincing themselves they’re happy or if they’re oblivious to it, everyone’s experiences are different and we can’t compare apples to oranges. I took a day to get out these emotions because yes, we all need a good cry, and the very next morning I was up and ready for the day like it never happened.

Since it isn’t very often that this happens, I decided to still make some changes to aid a healthier connection with social media. I stopped following people who pushed products to their followers because no, I don’t want my sole purpose in life to be a consumer; it’s a bad habit I’m trying to overcome and it’s tough when these posts on Instagram are so interesting. My goal is to do one new thing a day so that I never feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. Whether it’s to walk home a different route than usual, go to the gym or river more often, visit the library, or even talk to someone new in class (it’s never too late). Buy yourself some flowers and celebrate you.

It’s tough to agree with our older generation when it comes to technology, but I certainly agree that our generation has invested too much online that we don’t communicate enough face-to-face, leaving us dependent on social media for connections that cannot fulfill much needed human contact. Try not to start and end your day with social media and measure the mental freedom you create for yourself by doing so.

Featured image by Alexandra Cochran.

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