Whether we like it or not, social media has become a central component of our lives. Everyone from tweens to baby boomers has found their place in the social media-sphere: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Linked In…there’s a relevant social media platform for anyone and everyone. And while social media can be a great way to build a business network or stay in touch with the old gang from college…what is its impact on mental health and emotional wellbeing?

The connection between depression and social media use has been a subject of great interest to researchers. A study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found a correlation between the passive use of social media and the symptoms of depression. The study focused on the effects of passive social media use—the aimless scrolling we do when we’re waiting in line, sitting on hold, or doing any other mindless, boring activity. The results showed a correlation between social media use and the manifestation of depressive symptoms.

However, it’s not as simple as “social media causes depression.” It seems as thought only certain types of social media use triggered symptoms of sadness and fatigue. Additionally, depressed patients seemed to scroll through Facebook more often, raising the question: Which came first? The depression or the social media? It’s clear that more research is needed to truly understand the depth of connection between depression and social media.

We can definitely see how social media could exacerbate depressive symptoms. On social media, we’re constantly bombarded with images of perfection and happiness—our friends aren’t posting about the mundanities of their everyday lives! They’re posting vacation pictures and perfectly plated Martha Stewart-esque meals and well-kempt children. When we’re already struggling, seeing the sunshine-and-rainbow posts that our friends are making feels a little like getting kicked while we’re already down. Even though that’s not the intention…

To prevent yourself from taking social media the wrong way, do the following:

Assess your attitude: Are you jealous of the attention your friends are getting through their posts? Instead of feeling jealous, use these feelings to set goals for yourself…get motivated!

Understand that “likes” don’t equal happiness: So the picture your friend posted of her toes in the sand on a tropical beach in Tahiti got a million likes? But what else is going on in your friend’s life? Illness, relationship problems? Everyone is struggling with something, so don’t feel like there is something wrong with you because you’re not on a beach in French Polynesia…

Limit your time on social media: This is the simple solution. Try to change your habits, only allowing yourself to browse social media a few times a day. When you find yourself lost in a boring moment, spend a few minutes meditating, breathing mindfully, or stretching instead of scrolling through your feed.

If you’re struggling with depression, limiting your use of social media may not be what you need to alleviate symptoms and regain your life. Elev8 MD Wellness Center offers a full spectrum of services, many of which are designed to treat depression. Ketamine infusions, reiki, psychotherapy and other depression treatments are available right here at our Charlotte, NC wellness center.

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