Is Social Media Linked to Depression?

Black woman looking down at social media on her phone.

Are you on social media? Be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Snapchat—how often do you check it?  What was the purpose of you signing up for that social media platform? Each one can have a specific purpose, such as keeping in touch with family, networking, dating, blogging, or simply being nosey.

Whatever the reason, is it controlling how you feel? Do you feel encouraged, happy, or sad, or depressed? Studies have shown that social media can negatively impact on your mood and cause conditions such as depression. But how did we get here? 

Social Media in the Beginning 

My first social media account was AOL chat. I believe I just aged myself. It was before Wi-Fi.  This was in the late 90s during the internet dial-up era. Next, I signed up with Black Planet. I signed up for AOL chat and Black Planet to meet and date men. A/S/L (age, sex, location) is the only acronym I remember and was the first line typed. Pictures were scanned and uploaded to the sites with a scanner. Black Planet let you add graphics and music to your page. There wasn’t too much interaction amongst friends. It was more one-on-one. My, my, how times have changed.  

The New Millennium

About ten years later, I was introduced to Facebook. My purpose was only to look at the pictures that were taken at our 20-year high school class reunion. I wasn’t into all of the social media hype at that time, but I signed up anyway so I could see our pictures.  

Then I connected with classmates, childhood friends, family from my mom’s and dad’s sides, and former co-workers. I was so excited because I’m that one that says, “Keep in touch,” but would really make no effort to do so. I mean, come on, that’s a lot of people to keep in touch with! Facebook was a great way to see what people were up to after all these years of no communication. It was a way to let all in your circle know what was going on with you and share pictures. No need to make numerous phone calls or print and send pictures. What a concept.  

But I loved it! Friends would make a post and you could choose to comment on the post. It could be a feeling, question, suggestion, or just letting the world know what was going on with you at that time. It was fun to have a conversation amongst your peers and sometimes with strangers. A lot of Facebook “clowns” to keep you laughing, some inspiration, the attention seekers and then the negative people.  

And Then…Social Media Evolved

As more people signed up on social media (including entertainers, sports figures and politicians), the desire to follow them and add more details of what is going on in your life increased.

According to a study conducted at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, Inc., people who used social media the most were about 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than participants who used social media the least. Why? The following four culprits were to blame:

  1. More time spent online instead of out in the real world 
  2. FOMO – Fear of Missing Out 
  3. Cyberbullying 
  4. Digital Relationships

One thing the study did not mention is the opinions, statements, and news that can negatively flood a person’s social media feed. For some reason, people get drawn into the endless scroll and can’t stop looking. 

In 2020, coronavirus and civil unrest took over social media, and I noticed how some people became depressed because of what was going on in the world. Even doctors who were working with COVID patients were killing themselves because of depression.

Minimize the Negative Effects of Social Media

Given this study, it may be worth your while to limit your time on social media and take some precautions. Here are three steps you can take to minimize the negative effects of social media.

  1. Limit the time you spend on social media. Replace the time with something that will stimulate your mind, body, and soul. Research how to start a business. Focus on living a healthy lifestyle, reading books, learning another language—something that’ll make you grow. Channel the energy with positive vibes.  
  2. FOMO – Use that as a push to pursue your goals, to take the vacations, to get married and make your own good times! Remember this: everything you see on social media isn’t real. It may be the only thing that is making that person whole. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. You never know what is going on in a person’s life to live the lifestyle they are portraying. Also, don’t be envious; just be happy for them. You will see all of the good and very little of the bad on social media.
  3. Cyberbullying – Think of it this way: there is a reason someone is “coming at you.”  They see you growing and are jealous of your achievement. Instead of congratulating you or asking for advice or mentoring on how you succeeded, they choose to humiliate you and make you feel bad. Take the bullying as a compliment and keep it moving. 

In conclusion, unless you’re getting paid to be on social media to post, promote, or review products, limit the time and energy you put into it. Don’t get caught up in the negative vibes.

Key Takeaways

Focus on yourself. Don’t get lost or caught up in other people’s business.

Stay focused on your goals, your peace, and your happiness.  

Don’t waste your time on anything that doesn’t contribute to your growth. 

6 Responses

  1. Awesome post! It is so easy to get sucked in into social media and I often don’t realize how much of an impact it has on me. Thank you for the tips!

  2. Fantastic read, Connie! I loved seeing your journey as social media evolved along with an evolution of your mindset. And the tips at the end are great. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for sharing Connie. Social Media has definitely come a long way. I started with MySpace and now there are so many more websites, I can’t keep up with them and don’t desire to. I appreciate the steps you gave to help minimize the effects of social media. I plan to put those into practice.

  4. Wow! You truly gave me some food for thought as it relates to the impact of social media and our overall mental health. Thanks so much Connie!

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