This article will discuss why social media affects your mental health.
The main issue with social media is that there are many visual cues that tell people how much others weigh, how thin they are, and what they’re wearing.
The amount of time a person spends on social media greatly influences what they are seeing.
An obvious concern, but a serious issue as well. Anorexia and bulimia are very, very serious mental health issues.
In fact, the number of people going through anorexia and bulimia each year are astounding, and there is not much being done to understand the reasons why.
Teenagers that are particularly vulnerable to these issues have weak self-esteem and are socially isolated due to their social or academic background.
Their only social outlets are limited and it’s easy to see how this can lead to problems, especially when this is in the public eye via social media.
Despite the amount of time that people spend on social media, there is a huge percentage of teenagers who use it too much and are obsessed with it.
This obsession with social media can sometimes be referred to as an addiction, and in my opinion, that is a rather simplistic term. It’s not simply a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ addiction.
It’s an obsessive condition which can seriously affect your life. It can have a negative impact on your personal and professional life, and it’s also quite addictive!
There are different levels of internet addiction, with ‘digital addiction disorder’ being the worst of them all.
It’s quite difficult to change your internet use if it’s impacting on your home life, job or relationships, as you’re basically on a life-support machine which is keeping you alive.
Many teens are extremely vulnerable to the effects of social media.
They are regularly bombarded with information about how good other people look, what they wear, their school and even their social status.
If you believe that you are in an ‘invisible minority’ or are more of a minority within your peer group, then you could be at a high risk of developing body dysmorphic disorder.
It’s very common for girls to feel bad about their body image, and many women develop body dysmorphic disorder.
Again, social media isn’t innocent here; sometimes women use social media to project a particular idea of what a perfect body looks like, and as such, have unrealistic expectations about what a perfect body looks like.
If you’re a teenager and you don’t like your appearance, then think about what might be causing it.
Perhaps you’re overweight or have gained a few pounds and you don’t like it, or maybe your face doesn’t suit your body.
You could get help from a local GP or mental health nurse to try and change it and feel more comfortable with how you look.
Social media bullying:
Social media is a minefield for those who are bullied, particularly if it’s happening to children.
For teenagers, this can have a serious effect on their academic performance, their social relationships, their school, and overall well-being.
What makes bullying even worse, is that bullying can occur through social media! It’s easy to spread lies and rumours over a few quick messages and they can be a horrific experience.
It’s important for children to report bullying, but it’s also important for parents to monitor what their children are doing on social media.
Don’t let them have online profiles without supervision.
Social media addiction:
Whether you are concerned about your own body image or you’ve noticed a surge in the number of posts on your social media accounts, it’s certainly possible to develop a social media addiction.
My father suffered from this, and has been an addict since being taken off smoking in his youth by his doctor.
You can become a social media addict pretty easily; it’s certainly not easy to resist the urge to check social media when you see a notification from one of your friends.
Social media is like a drug and it needs to be controlled. There are several websites that can help to monitor how much time you spend on social media, and should help to cut down how much time you spend online.
It’s worth finding a good balance of time on social media, so that it’s not ruining your life.
Breast cancer risk:
While it is normal to be concerned about the risk of getting breast cancer, it’s not a healthy obsession to worry about every possible source of the disease.
Just as with smoking, breast cancer can be caused by genetics, age, alcohol, diet, exercise, or a number of other factors. So, worry less about it, and do everything you can to prevent it.
Out of control body dysmorphic disorder:
Whilst this is a relatively rare form of disorder, it is a serious and distressing condition. Those who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder obsess about certain body parts and will convince themselves that they have a cosmetic problem.
Unfortunately, the symptoms often continue to get worse until the sufferer decides to undergo treatment in order to improve their appearance.
An obsession with one specific body part (for example, your nose) can make it difficult to function in daily life and it can cause problems with relationships.
Treatment can be difficult and time consuming, and often requires medical treatment and sometimes surgery.
Social media makes us miserable:
Social media can be a brilliant way of staying in contact with friends and family around the world, as well as a way of sharing photos and sharing information with the world.
The negative side of social media is that it’s very easy to dwell on the bad news, and to build up unrealistic expectations of what people look like.
These expectations, especially on social media, can turn into a form of body dysmorphic disorder where the person can become obsessed with their appearance.
Unfortunately, it’s often difficult for friends and family to recognise the problem and can make it even harder to ask for help.
NHS mental health services:
There are a number of positive things that social media can bring to people’s lives. However, there are also many negatives; and sadly, there is little that the NHS can do to stop this.
So, if you have concerns about your body image or social media obsession, or if you’re concerned that you might have an underlying mental health problem, please speak to your GP.