How Social Media Contributes to Anxiety & Depression

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


3.1 billion people around the world  use social media. It has revolutionized how the world receives news, how businesses market to their consumers, and how people communicate with each other. But even though social media can be a great tool and resource, it can also be harmful. In fact, 210 million of the 3.1 billion social media users suffer from internet and social media addictions.  

What’s more is that social media can actually contribute to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Studies show that teens who spend five hours or more per day on their phones are twice as likely to have depres sion symptoms. 

However, too much social media can also contribute to young adults’ mental health. For example, actress and singer, Selena Gomez recently revealed on Live With Kelley and Ryan that she deleted the Instagram app  from her phone.  

Selena Gomez has one of the most followed accounts on Instagram, with 152 million followers, and she used to interact with fans on the app regularly. But the more she paid attention to negative comments, she began to lose self-confidence and started to feel depressed.  

Selena Gomez said to Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest that she thinks apps like Instagram can be really unhealthy for young people who fixate on negative comments and let that negativity into their lives. And the statistics on young people and social media seem to affirm Selena Gomez’s beliefs.  

How Social Media Contributes to Anxiety and Depression

As was mentioned, statistics show that the overuse of social media makes young people more likely to experience depression symptoms. But how exactly does social media negatively affect mental health? Like Selena Gomez mentioned, negative comments can take their toll.  

In the movie Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, a character named Yesss shares some wise words of wisdom with Ralph: “First rule of the Internet, do not read the comments… [the internet] can bring out the worst in some people.” Yesss is right. The internet is not always a place of positivity. Plenty of people use it as a platform to spread negativity, and if you get caught up in the negativity, your mental health will decline.  

Social media and screen addictions are also associated with lack of sleep, which can lead to a decline in mental and physical health. In fact, 71% of Americans  sleep with or next to their phone, and 10% of teens  are reported to look at their phone 10 or more times during the night.  

Another way that social media can contribute to depression and anxiety is that it distracts from real-life relationships. When we spend time looking at our screens, we forget to interact with those who are actually here with us. And studies show that your quality of life depends partly on your personal relationships .  

What You Can Do to Limit Your Social Media Use

So what can you do to limit your social media use and avoid a decline in your mental health? You can follow Selena Gomez’s example and delete the app, or you can simply block the negative accounts and only follow positive ones. If you see something that upsets you, you can also hide it from your timeline and let the app know that you want to either unfollow the user or see fewer posts like that one.  

Another thing you can do is set a time limit for yourself so you don’t overdo it with social media. And if you have trouble sleeping because you’re distracted by your phone, set it away from your bed. Did you also know that you can set your phone to be in “do not disturb” mode while you sleep? This feature makes it so you won’t get any notifications, calls, or texts from the time you go to bed until the time you wake up. That way, you won’t be distracted by the light or noise when your phone goes off.  

If you’ve noticed that social media has a negative impact on your self-esteem or mental health, consider taking a break or implementing some of the tips we suggested. If you want further help with your mental health, contact us  at Serenity Mental Health Centers to learn how we can help you take back your life! 

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*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.