Does Social Media Have an Effect on Your Mental Health?

Cell phone with social media apps.

Cell phone with social media apps.

Augusta Judy, Staff Writer

With around half of the world currently using social media platforms, a correlation between this popular pastime and an increase of mental health issues in recent years is undeniable. Depression and anxiety levels are skyrocketing, especially among teens and young adults who, according to a 2019 study by Pew Research, make up 90% of all social media users. 

Social media can have a grave impact on your quality of life. According to a 2016 study from Science Direct, users are at a threefold risk of developing anxiety and depression. Engaging with social media likely causes stress levels to rise fueled by negative content, lifestyle envy, and feelings of wasted time. Distorted beauty ideals may cause a plummet in self-esteem. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who spent extensive amounts of time on social networks were twice as likely to experience a lack of belonging and to struggle with fulfilling relationships. 

For many, social media is more than just a time killer–it’s an addiction. According to a 2018 article from Harvard University, dopamine, or “the feel-good hormone,” is released whenever we have a successful social interaction. Once this happens a few times via social networking, we become conditioned to associate that pleasure with those platforms. Dopamine is known for its dysfunctionality in cases of addiction. Dr. Joseph Rock, a clinical psychologist at The Cleveland Clinic, compares the behavior of extensive social media users to that of alcoholics and drug addicts. 

On the flip side, there are some positive aspects of social media. For example, it connects you to people all over the world, helps you to find people with similar interests, and gives many people the opportunity to have a voice. However, there is a linear correlation between social media and a decrease in mental health, making it very important to be aware of how social media is affecting you.