How does social media make you depressed when spending time on social media can be a fun way to pass time? Social media can be an efficient way to stay in contact with friends and see what’s going on in their lives. It can be enjoyable to share what’s going on in our own lives. But when we’re depressed, it can be easier to just stay in and spend time on our social media sites rather than rather than spend time offline, e.g. going jogging outside or meeting up with friends in person. Yet when we’re already feeling depressed, social media can cause us to feel even more depressed. I’ve discovered a few reasons for why social media makes you depressed and what you can do about it.
3 Reasons Social Media Makes You Depressed
- Social media encourages social comparison. There have been many studies linking social media to depression. A study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology shows we feel depressed because we’re comparing our own lives to others’ highlight reels.1 This can be magnified when we’re depressed. When depressed, we often don’t engage in the activities that we used to enjoy. Even when we do engage in activities we once enjoyed, we often don’t get that same level of enjoyment. At a time when we find ourselves spending more time in bed, the social comparison gap is widened, causing us to feel even more depressed than before.
- Social media keeps world events top of mind. Since I don’t watch the nightly news, I often find out what’s going on in the world through social media. When tragedy strikes, the world is buzzing with all of this information. When I’m depressed, I’m more likely to get overwhelmed with world events. Seeing these constant reminders causes me to feel more depressed than before.
- Social media use can be addictive and lead to more problems. It’s happened to me so many times: I just intend to spend “a few minutes” checking social media and, by the time I realize it, easily 30 minutes or more has gone by and I have nothing to show for it. This is fine every now and then. This becomes a problem when we are spending so much time on social media that it becomes an actual addiction, keeping us from activities designed to nourish our souls. When we neglect the things we need to do in order to stay healthy, such as exercising, shopping for and preparing healthy meals, or engaging in our real-life relationships, our mental health can deteriorate.
If you’re finding yourself more depressed after spending time on social media, it might be time to consider taking a social media detox. Check out my video below for tips on taking a social media detox.
1 Steers, M. N., Wickham, R. E., & Acitelli, L. K. (2014). Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/10.1521/jscp.2014.33.8.701