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Is Social Media Effecting our Mental Health?

Regardless of our age or gender, in 2018 there are few of us who don’t own a smart phone and maintain some form of social media page. It is the way we keep up with our loved ones and social circles, a way to maintain friendships with those both across the country and the globe and a way to share what is going on in our lives with our friends and family between get-togethers and holidays.

In fact, for most people, social media has only ever helped them to maintain contact with their loved ones and made it easier to keep them in the loop about their day to day lives. It gives us something to do on the train to work in the morning, somewhere to post the thousands of pictures we take on holiday and is often our fastest (although not always most reliable) form of news with events and disasters being posted in real-time across social network sites.

However, social media isn’t always “good” for everyone – and recent studies have begun to link social media to poor mental health, particularly with young women and girls. In a world where everything we do is posted online, it can feel impossible to keep up and when everything from the dinner we eat to the clothes we wear is photographed and shared for anyone to comment – is it any wonder that social media is causing problems with mental health?

Unfortunately, it is almost second nature for most of us to be somewhat jealous of what our neighbour might have – their holidays, a new car, even their looks, and unfortunately this only seems to have gotten worse since the rise of social media sites. Our feeds are often an endless stream of beautiful people, in beautiful places having the best times of their lives.

However, those who use social media are more likely to only post the good parts of their lives – engagement and pregnancy announcements, countdowns to another luxurious holiday abroad, anniversary dinners, new clothes and new shoes. In reality, most of us shy away from posting when something goes wrong, often creating a smoke screen for what is really happening in people’s lives or an illusion that everyone else is ok all ok the time.

Feeling like you’re the only person struggling may cause your mental health issues such as depression or anxiety to worsen and make it even more difficult to open up about your situation or your emotions – especially on a social media platform where yours might be the only post of that nature. Many of us – particularly those of us who are older – have been conditioned not to discuss our mental health and the idea that no one else is struggling can make it even more difficult to open up.

Social Media apps such as SnapChat could have further increased the problem, by encouraging teenagers and young people – again particularly girls – to edit the shapes and structures of their faces, whilst photoshop has long been the best friend of both celebrities and the general public to help achieve impossible “looks”.

Samsung telephones come with a “beautify” tool already installed and enabled on their front facing camera – removing freckles, wrinkles and any dark spots under your eyes, SnapChat will raise your cheekbones, slim your face and increase the size of your lips and eyes, and photoshop (when used correctly) can completely alter your look, weight, hair and skin colour to create the “perfect” version of ourselves ready to be posted online.

These beauty tools and the social pressure to maintain a particular look can be extremely detrimental to your mental health, self-esteem and your self-worth, with the reality of changing the size of our features or the bone structure of our faces being impossible for most of us. For some people the pressure of trying to obtain an impossible body shape can cause them to develop other mental health disorders such as eating disorders or body dysmorphic disorder, as well as a number of other mental health issues.

If you find yourself spending too much time on social media, or find that scrolling through the homepage of your favourite platform leaves you feeling down, depressed or unnecessarily comparing yourself to those who you’re connected with – take a social media detox. There are a number of apps that can tell you how long you spend on your phone using particular social platforms – and limit you to a certain time period. If social media is getting too much, force yourself to have a few days away from it every week; delete the app from your phone and only check it through the mobile or desktop site so you will be less tempted to get lost in a world of scrolling or try to keep your time on social platforms down to an hour a day.

If you find yourself struggling with your depression, anxiety or other areas of your mental health, therapy could be a great way to get back to feeling like yourself again. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of treatment for both depression and anxiety and can help you to feel better over a short period of time. CBT was created as a fixed term form of therapy, with the focus of fixing the problem and learning how to deal with certain emotions or situations in the future. Online therapy is a great way to include CBT into your everyday life without disrupting your busy schedule or dragging you away from the comfort of your sofa now the weathers turned again. Our interactive platform has been expertly developed to deliver professional therapy in an accessible and convenient way – bringing everything you would expect from a traditional clinic, in the comfort of where is best for you. Learn more about our app, our services and our professional team here.