Social Media & Mental Health: Are Our Minds Safe?

Does the extensive use of social media sites, channels and tools cause some kind of disturbance or another to our mental stability? What are the psychological issues and disorders that social media can help breed, promote and encourage for both kids and adults? How can we control our social media presence to contain such a serious dilemma?

A Brief Prelude…

No one can underestimate or try to deny the power of social media and its ability to raise awareness for important issues and spread the word about various causes, but is that it? I mean apart from the privacy related problems and the work related concerns, are there no other negative “side effects” that we seem to be overlooking?

Common Mood Disorders

Common Mood Disorders

So, what other concerns could I talking about? Mental stability negatively influenced by social media, and here is how…

The top 7 psychological disorders social media helps promote…

In addition to their ability to brainwash us, I think social media channels and social networking sites pose the following psychological threats on our mental health and personality:

1. Schizophrenia: “a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality. Distortions in perception may affect all five senses, but most commonly manifest as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social or occupational dysfunction”.

As the above definition clearly suggests, perception disorders are a mental problem, especially when it comes to certain complexes such as the “God complex” and claiming that one is someone he/she isn’t! Social media can help encourage such disillusion perceptions due to the fact that they allow for claiming to be who you are not and describing yourself differently using various channels!

2. Insomnia & Sleep Disorders: insomnia is “difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both”.

In general, lack of sleep can be very problematic and I believe social media can cause it as well as insomnia at a more advanced stage. I take myself here as an example. I use social media from morning till after midnight and I confess Twitter has kept me up for early morning hours on several occasions. Not only is that not healthy, but it also can stress the mind and further cause lower level outputs.

3. Sexual Problems & Deviation: sexual deviation is “a term used to describe sexual arousal to objects or situations that are not part of normative stimulation and that can cause distress or serious problems for the paraphiliac or persons associated with him or her”.

Although we all know that there are thousands, if not millions, of porn sites, of different nature and content, all over the web. But do we realize how easy social media makes it is to share them now despite parental controls and site blocks? A great example would be the availing porn searches and their negative influence on kid’s mental stability and parenting as well.

4. ADHD: ADHA is primarily characterized by “the co-existence of attentional problems and hyperactivity, with each behavior occurring infrequently alone.”

In such a fast moving environment that we live in, we are becoming like goldfish; with a rather limited attention span. Attention Deficiency/Hyperactivity Disorder is a well-known and highly spread problem. I think that the use of social media and the many distractions the various channels, tools and sites cause actually help promote ADHD for all of us!

5. Addiction: is a “term used to is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive psychological dependence”.

There are alcohol addicts, drug addicts, cigarette addicts and there are social media addicts! Whatever the addiction may be, it is, by far, a negative state which can highly effect the way we deal with people and the world around us! Social media provides a well-prepared platform for weak people who can’t organize their time and control their social media use.

6. Anxiety & Depression: refers to “a state of low mood and aversion to activity” which is highly correlated with anxiety.

Sometimes, locking yourself inside, staying in solitude and keeping away from face-to-face interaction can cause depression and anxiety. I believe social media encourages people to spend more time alone, on their computers, rather than with others.

7. Eating Disorders: is a condition in which an individual eats, or avoids eating, in a manner which negatively affects both one’s physical and mental health.”

It’s very simple: you sit all day at work, then sit some more for social media; that will probably help grow any eating disorder habits you have! Just like the TV used to cause us to eat more, especially in the evening time, social media use can motivate such a practice.

The windup…

After having heard my arguments against the excessive use of social media and its adverse and negative outcomes. Would you agree, at least to some extent, that social media has the ability to bring about the aforementioned disorders or others I may have missed? What do you think are the right social media “daily doses” to help us avoid reaching to those levels?

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    If I've got any of the disorders you mentioned, it's definitely not the loss of appetite. ;)

    But my attention span is definitely getting affected – I do 10 things at the same instance – sometimes forgetting where I reached with the other :S. Also my sleep is a little out of sync – but this runs in the family since before PCs!

    Good article, Beirut. Keep it up…

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com M.Bamieh

    out of all the disorders you forgot the one that pretains the most to the internet and social media, OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder … how often do u check your accounts when you don't really have to, even pressing refresh a dozen of times in the span of a minute (pre-AJAX folks can relate)
    but evidently it makes us happy and gives us and opiate high

  • http://www.magicksandwich.org kathcom

    I really hope you're kidding about disorders such as schizophrenia. It might be fun to talk about how social media exacerbates existing compulsions based on the fact that we can all see a mild amount of disordered thinking in ourselves, but to offhandedly remark that social media could cause these things diminishes the suffering of those with mental illnesses.

    I'm sorry to be uptight about this. If I've missed the humor in it, please forgive me.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Dear kathcom,

    Allow me to stress the fact that I am, in no way, making fun and/or taking lightly any of these disorders. I sincerely understand and respect the suffering each mental disorder I mentioned (and those I didn't mention) can cause, and I both empathize and sympathize.

    This post was written from an unbiased, strictly opinion-based point of view about social media and its negative influences. And as I see it, social media can have the strength to cause these problems or help promote them if the root of the disorder was already there.

    I have been writing for many years now and trust me, on my personal blog, I have written plenty about how I feel that I embrace many personalities at the same time, maybe bot in the sever sense but rather from the humane point of view and complications of life.

    Finally, allow me to apologize if, in any way, my article offended you. Again, I was serious and I did not intend for it to be humorous at any level.

    Kind regards…

    Beirut

  • http://www.magicksandwich.org kathcom

    Thank you for writing back. I have a blog as well and I know it's difficult when a reader doesn't “get it.” In this case, I happen to be that reader.

    I had hoped you were being tongue-in-cheek about schizophrenia in particular. Social media may allow people to pretend to be someone they're not but it's a huge leap to compare that to true delusional thinking or a God complex. These are painful symptoms of a brain disorder. Social media cannot cause them. Having known schizophrenics, I can attest to their suffering, which is off the charts compared to the narcissism social media encourages.

    All in all, I agree with what you're saying. I definitely see a hyper, addictive compulsion in my need to check my email and Google reader. Weirdly, though, I find that spending time online can lift a depressive mood. If I'm feeling low and uncommunicative, I can still stay tethered to the world by interacting with others online, like this. It's an insular world where a depressive can feel safe, at one remove, and still participate in that world.

    So I guess I did maybe “get it” a little bit, after all.

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    [...] on almost every stage of its users’ lives! Whether it be how social media could kill us, its effect on our mental health or how its use can positively or negatively effect an enterprise, social media has been taking the [...]

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    Social media also affects sleep.

  • BedTimeStory

    I have heard many people saying that they relax in font of the TV. That is a false concept and the TV stimulates your beta brain waves which are characteristic for intense brain activity and you eventually get more tired then you were. So if you plan on relaxing, please stay away from the TV or computer:))

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  • http://www.kingbedinabag.com bed in a bag

    Social media can definitely be used for good, but there are some bad seeds out there to look out for, too!

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  • Onlooker

    I believe that if you already have some of the mentioned disorders it is possible that an excess of social media sites may be detrimental to your pre-existing diagnosis. However, I think that it’s somewhat far-fetched to believe that something like Facebook or Twitter could cause a mental illness such as schizophrenia, insomnia or depression. Much of the time several of these disorders originate as chemical imbalances in your brain! It’s silly to assume that Facebook or Twitter are an underlying cause of such serious mental disorders.

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    [...] positive psychological effects of social media, I was unable to find anything. However, I found a blogpost by a woman who is looking for the answers to whether or not psychological issues and illnesses [...]

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your information and social media is very effective. I would like to share something about the obsessive compulsive personality disorder because it is one of the most common disorder. It is linked to genetics and is caused by an imbalance in the person’s brain chemistry. This perfectionism may interfere with the person’s ability to complete a given task, because their rigid standards cannot be upheld. People with the OCPD may emotionally withdraw when they are not able to control the situation.
    http://www.disorderscentral.com/obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder-understanding-it.html

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  • http://www.proven-natural-remedies.com Conrad

    Social media obviously has its benefits or it would not be as widely used as it is today. But just like everything else it is not perfect and should be used with diligence. Thank You for posting this and I hope this post helps many people make informed decisions about using social media.

    Conrad

    Natural Remedies

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  • http://sleepdisorders.dolyan.com/ jammy

    To discover if there are any bio-physiological changes occurring during sleep a Poly-Somno-Graphy (PSG), also referred to as a ‘sleep study’, might be carried out. A PSG records various functions while the person is sleeping: such as brain and muscle activity, rapid eye movement (which indicates dramatic dreams – night terrors), heart rhythm (ECG) and skeletal-muscle activity (EMG). If more complex data is needed the PSG will either be supplemented or replaced by an Actigraphy. These tests can diagnose which sleeping problem is causing the situation, as well as rule out most of the more common sleeping orders. Insomnia is usually the diagnosis if there is a chronic disruption in sleep patterns occurs and no other cause can be found.

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