Depression and technology have become intricately linked today due to our pervasive use of social media and our constant online connection through smartphones and other devices. While technology offers many benefits, it also has disadvantages concerning mental health. Social media often creates a perfect image of other people’s lives, leading to feelings of inadequacy, and even depression. Recognizing these potential negative impacts can help mitigate them and inform better daily social media and technology practices.
The upside of technology is that it has revolutionized the way we live, work, and share information, providing us with various tools, easier treatment access, and helpful resources to support those coping with mental health conditions like depression in more innovative ways. Today’s technological advances offer seekers various options for support, including but not limited to online therapy, virtual support groups, or meditation apps when they aren’t feeling their best, helping many. However, it’s also essential to recognize the downsides of technology.
In this blog by Integrative Healthcare Center, we’ll explore the intersection between depression and technology in today’s world and how innovations like social media and other online platforms contribute to feelings of isolation, low worth, and unrealistic expectations about life for many. So, let’s pause our digital notifications for a moment and dive into an insightful conversation about managing our well-being in today’s hyper-connected world.
Visit us here for more information about depression treatment and other mental health conditions with Integrative Healthcare Center.
Correlations between Technology and Depression
The association between technology and depression is complex and multifaceted, making it essential to establish a balance between using technology to enhance our experiences while not overusing tech to escape or cope with life challenges. As with any tool, the key to using technology and social media appropriately involves mindfulness and being intentional, even though constant connection has become the norm.
Over time, the use of technology and social media can magnify a person’s sense of low self-esteem and identity, especially for those who spend a lot of time on social media or perusing online, which is especially common among teenagers. Additionally, technology can also lead to fewer face-to-face interactions and physical encounters, which are essential in maintaining good mental health and developing healthier conflict resolution skills.
From Instagram reels to work emails, our lives and those of others feel accessible almost all the time, but this isn’t as helpful as it may seem. In fact, studies have shown that too much screen time and online interaction can lead to increases in aggression, distress, and physical withdrawal from the community, making it essential to address the problem of technology and depression.
Impacts of Staying Plugged In On Social Media and Depression
According to 2018 statistics presented by The Organization for Social Media Safety, it’s typical for teenagers to spend up to 9 hours online daily. Teenagers spending more than five hours a day plugged in were 70% more inclined to experience suicidal ideation or act over those spending a single hour online daily, demonstrating just how significantly adverse these effects can be.
The “Highlight Reel” Effect
If you’ve ever scrolled through social media and felt like everyone else’s life was much better than yours, you’re not alone, and this experience isn’t unique. In fact, it’s called the “Highlight Reel” effect. The highlight reel effect works when people only share the most attractive aspects of their lives online, making it seem like they are living a picture-perfect existence. While often unconscious, it can be damaging all the same.
Furthermore, with the use of filters and AI, it can feel even more complicated to see the truth behind social media posts. However, the reality is everyone has struggles and challenges that they don’t broadcast to the world. When social media feels upsetting, it’s important to remember that social media is only a snapshot of someone’s life, not the whole picture. It’s also okay to unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel good.
So, next time you find yourself feeling disappointed after scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, remember you’re seeing a snapshot rather than the whole story. Behind every picture-perfect post, there may be pain and imperfections that we don’t see.
The Rise of Social Media Addiction
As we navigate our technological landscape today, it’s hard not to be bombarded by the constant buzz of social media notifications and the pressure to stay plugged in. Research shows engagement with our devices over time releases feel-good hormones quickly that keep us coming back and reloading, further exacerbating the fear we are missing out on something fantastic and in a constant dopamine loop to feel good again.
For some individuals, social media becomes addictive and highly harmful. According to The National Library of Medicine, a behavioral addiction describes the inability to resist the impulse to engage in your addiction even if it harms you and others. While many consider alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs when they think of addiction, the internet, social media, and virtual reality can also fuel addiction that requires clinical treatment and alters brain chemicals like dopamine.
It’s easy to lose track of time and get consumed by the constant notifications, likes, and comments. Furthermore, this addiction is not just limited to teens and millennials; adults are also at risk of developing an addiction to social media. Being aware and addressing our social media usage, blocking out technology free time, and taking the necessary steps to regulate our feelings can help many avoid addiction or doom scroll.
Avoiding Burnout in Context to Depression and Technology
Over time, overusing technology can lead to mental exhaustion, physical fatigue, and a decrease in overall productivity. Constant connectivity via technology and social media comes with a risk of burnout. Common burnout symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Feeling exhausted and drained
- Loss of motivation and interest in activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Increased feelings of anxiety or depression
Here’s the thing, though: it’s okay to disconnect. In fact, it can be tremendously helpful for your mental and physical well-being to unplug for a few hours or days. Being considerate with your time, putting down the phone to be present with loved ones, and temporarily ceasing the consistent stream of information you receive online can help you feel grounded and engage with the natural world instead of a screen.
Setting Boundaries and Taking Breaks from Technology
Now that technology surrounds us at every turn, it can be challenging to set boundaries and take breaks from our devices. However, it’s essential to do so for our mental and physical health. Taking a break from technology not only gives our eyes and brains a rest but also allows us to reconnect with our surroundings. So, whether it’s going for a walk, spending time with loved ones, or limiting screen time through apps, taking a break can significantly benefit your well-being.
Additionally, setting boundaries can help prevent burnout, ensuring that technology doesn’t consume life completely. Setting timers, alerts, or purchasing devices that make your phone inaccessible for periods helps limit use. It’s important to remember that technology is a tool, and it should never control us.
Taking time for self-care activities you enjoy and physically engage in, like yoga, meditation, or journaling, can be powerful. Additionally, combining this with supportive conversations with loved ones or guidance from a mental health provider or therapist can also be helpful.
Depression and Social Media Addiction Treatments
For some, clinical-level support is an aspect of their recovery from depression that may be linked to social media addiction or technology, helping them treat the origin of their obsession and symptoms. These treatments may include psychiatric care, medication management, talk therapy, biofeedback, TMS, and other depression treatments. However, it’s essential to work directly with your medical provider to determine the best depression treatment options for you.
Depression and Technology Can Be Managed and Addressed!
Today, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, making it essential we recognize the impact it can have on our health and everyday choices. From the constant pressure to post the perfect image to your timeline to the rise of social media addiction, it’s clear that we need to reassess our relationship with social media and determine what’s working for us and what’s not.
So, take a step back, set boundaries, and when needed, seek assistance from licensed medical professionals offering treatments and supportive services for various conditions that technology and social media can exacerbate. Together, we can move towards a healthier relationship with technology, and that starts with prioritizing mental well-being.
More about Wellness with Integrative Healthcare Center
If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of technology and suspect you may have depression or another mental health condition, don’t hesitate to call Integrative Healthcare Center at (855) 599-9987 or via this online form for support and guidance located in Nashua, New Hampshire.
We offer various depression treatment services that have helped many get past this challenging chapter of life and begin a new start. Our team of mental health experts is committed to helping you feel better while improving your relationship with technology and the world around you, including those you love, through scientifically validated treatment options.
Let’s make a conscious effort to use technology in a way that enhances our lives instead of hindering it. We are here for you.