Five Ways Social Media can Have a Negative Effect on People with Mental Illness
Like most things in life, social media has advantages as well as disadvantages. Social media can be advantageous for your business by giving the opportunity for potential followers to know that you not only exist, but for them to enjoy your content. Another good thing about social media is that it allows you to connect with new and old friends. However, be aware of dark side to social media. Especially for those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression.
Unfortunately, many people who are not being treated for mental illness are prone to misusing social media. They can end up falling into dangerous traps as a result. I will list some of the dangers:
- Increases Avoidance and Procrastination. There are always tasks that no one is enthusiastic about completing. However, people who are either mentally healthy or are being properly treated for mental illness realize that a task, no matter how unpleasant it may be must be completed. They will take the bull by the horns and do it. Those who are not being treated for mental illness will know that these tasks need to be done but will do what they can to avoid it. The temptation of wasting time on social media is there. When this habit becomes obsessive, they will find themselves not getting anything done- possibly including paying their bills.
- The Risk of Isolation is Higher. If you are dealing with mental illnesses such as depression, you will have a tendency to withdraw. When you isolate yourself from others, you will likely use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. as a substitute for human contact. Excessive use of social media for this purpose especially can create further isolation and can worsen the condition.
- Social Media can Lead to Addiction. Social media can be addictive as it is, even for those who are healthy. If someone has an addictive personality and is obsessively checking his or her social media feeds, that habit can easily turn into an addiction which can add more complications to that individual’s mental health.
- You are Prone to Comparing your Life to Others. When you are dealing with depression and mental illness in general, you are going to naturally feel very down about your own life. You are going to believe you have gotten the short end of the stick. When you start going on Facebook and Instagram, you will inevitably see pictures of your friends appearing as if they are living the best life. You may be stuck at home, unable to go on vacation and yet you are seeing your friends post pictures of their European vacations. You may be short on cash, and as a result you are living on Kraft dinner. When you see your friends post pictures of their elegant meals at expensive restaurants- you will feel worse about your situation. Just remember that they are showing their highlights, and that no one has a perfect life.
5. You can Easily Become a Target of Cyber-bullying. When you are dealing with mental illness, you may blurt out inappropriate things on social media. Unfortunately, many people will start a fight with you and may even start cyber-bullying you. This can easily happen in groups or forums. If you are being harassed and cyber-bullied, it will create more agony in your life. Always think before you post.
On the flip side, if you are being treated properly for your mental illness- and you are aware of the dangers, then joining support groups can be a wonderful way to use the platform to your advantage. Social media itself is neutral. The way it can affect you is how you use it and be sure to use it wisely.