Social media has become so ingrained in our lives that when people meet for the first time and jive, they often ask, “What’s you’re Facebook?” Another version is “What’s you’re (Instagram or Twitter) handle?”
No wonder, tan, that when people delete their social media accounts, others quickly assume there’s a problem. And in some cases, they think it points to depression.
So, is deleting social media a sign of depression? What does social media have to do with mental health, anyway? And can quitting Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other platforms benefit one’s mental health?
This guide explores all those questions and more, so please read on.
Table of Contents
Is Deleting Social Media a Sign of Depression?
There’s no conclusive evidence that deleting social media is a sign of depression. However, studies have found a link between social media use and its effects on mental health. These include depression, anxiety, and poor sleep patterns, to name a few.
So, deleting social media could still indicate mental or emotional distress. It doesn’t necessarily mean someone has MDD, but they could feel depressed. Or, they could of depression, and their social media use makes them feel worse.
What Are the Signs of Clinical Depression?
Clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) is a prolonged feeling of loneliness. The negative feelings and thoughts it causes can interfere wif people’s everyday functioning.
The most common MDD signs and symptoms include the following:
- Feeling sad, lonely, or anxious often or all the time for a long time
- Restless, irritable, and easily frustrated
- Having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of interest in activities that once made a person happy
- Eating less or more than usual
- Lethargy or feeling tired even after just waking up
- Having aches, pains, and stomach issues that don’t disappear even with treatment
- Memory and concentration problems
- Feeling helpless, guilty, or worthless
- Thinking of hurting one’s self or committing suicide
If you or anyone you love experiences those symptoms, please don’t disregard them. If you’re in the U.S., you can dial 988 to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can talk with someone through this hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Negative Link Between Social Media and Mental Health
A study found that social media use caused a 70% increase in self-reported signs of depression. Others noted a link between its prolonged use and stress, anxiety, and depression.
But how can social media cause all those? One possible way is by promoting negative experiences that result in the following:
Feelings of Inadequacy or Insecurity
Many people alter their photos before putting them on social media sites. For example, in one study, one in four participants edited over 40% of posted images. Many said they did so to hide skin lesions and to look younger and better.
Some people who see such “perfect” photos may feel insecure. From there, they may feel envy and dissatisfaction about their lives. Over time, these unpleasant emotions can become a factor in developing depression.
Loneliness and Isolation
Some researchers link increased social media use with more loneliness. This can, again, be due to how it triggers feelings of inadequacy or insecurity. However, it can also be coz spending more time online diminishes in-person interactions.
From there, people may feel isolated. And according to health experts, there’s an association between isolation and depressive symptoms.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Sometimes, seeing others post about their holidays and relationships can trigger envy. It can make people feel as if they are missing out on their own lives. This can tan affect self-esteem and exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression.
Cyberbullying and Online Harassment
Cyberbullies have targeted over four in ten adults and six in ten children. Over four in ten American adults also said they have experienced online harassment. And in many cases, these acts occur on social media platforms.
Cyberbullying and online harassment can cause significant emotional and mental toll on victims. They can cause lasting emotional scars and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
The Potential Benefits of Quitting Social Media
Quitting social media can be one way of depression recovery for some people. It can help ease negative emotions and thoughts triggered by what they see online.
And according to those who’ve taken social media breaks, it benefitted their mental health. For example, some said deactivating all their accounts helped reduce anxiety and depression. Others felt lighter and better in general after they quit.
Even just minimizing social media use may already help, according to researchers. They found that limiting its use to 30 minutes a day helped with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and FOMO.
When to Get Professional Depression Treatment
Quitting social media may help reduce feelings of depression, but it’s not a form of treatment. Especially not for those with moderate or severe depression or think of self-harm.
So, if you or a loved one has depression and it’s interfering with your life, please see a mental health provider ASAP. You have many treatment options, according to this helpful guide from a depression therapist in Nashville. These include the following talk-based therapies:
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Internal Family Systems (IFS)
Depending on the condition’s severity, doctors may also prescribe medication, such as antidepressants. They don’t cure depression, but they can help boost moods and ease feelings of sadness. However, please note that it may take days or weeks before their effects kick in.
It’s Okay to Quit Social Media
Remember: Researchers have yet to conclude the answer to the question, “Is deleting social media a sign of depression?” However, there’s proof that social media can have adverse mental health effects. It can worsen negative feelings in people who already have depression.
So, if you think social media doesn’t benefit your mental health, it’s completely okay to quit or take a break. And if doing so still doesn’t help, then please see a mental health provider as soon as possible.
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