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Connection Between Social Media and Depression

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In this day and age, a lot of technological progressions have been made, especially with regards to our mediums through which we interact. Since the rise of technology has become so vast, people have upgraded their phones, tablets, and computers to catch up with the latest and trending social media.

Social media is a platform or channel that aims to let other people connect with other people online especially their loved ones even though they cannot feel their physical presence. This helps people connect with one another, be updated with the latest news and events and helps in raising work productivity and convenience with regards to sharing documents and files. People have been already known to meet new people online and form friendships with one another. Over the years social media has grown exponentially with its number of online users. However, as social media became popular, researchers have found out that there are also negative effects that can be acquired due to excess usage and not only adults are accounted to experience these but teenagers as well. Social media in its current form and ease of access appeals more to younger audiences and that is why it can have more profound effects on teenagers like anxieties, stress, and connection between social media and depression.

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Depression is a whole-body illness that affects a person’s physical health as well as how he or she feels, thinks, and behaves towards others. In addition, a person who suffers from this disorder may have problems eating, sleeping, working, and getting along with his/her friends, these problems are significantly greater when it comes to younger persons as younger people are known to be more volatile with tense and emotional burdens. Depressed people can be led to cut off interaction with the outside world, suffer from insomnia, develop mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, and even commit suicide. Recent studies have been conducted connecting social media as a cause of depression in people, most notably from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wherein researchers have coined a term for depression that is caused by social media, “Facebook Depression” or “Social Media Depression”. With these, it can be said that social media causes teenage depression as it affects their social skills and productivity, exposes them to cyber-bullying, induces stress and strikes their emotional capacity in their young age.

Teenagers and kids spend hours beyond their bedtime browsing and posting on their social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Lead researcher Dr. Heather Cleland Woods and Holly Scott assessed the quality of sleep, self-esteem, anxiety, depression and emotional investment in relation to social media, and the results showed an increase in anxiety and depression level as well as lower self-esteem. “Adolescence can be a period of increased vulnerability for the onset of depression and anxiety,” said Dr. Cleland and since the teenagers of this generation have become exposed to social media; it may be the reason behind the rising number of cases of depression, but the question is how?

Cyberbullying is one of the most well-known issues today. It may include text messages or emails intended for insulting others, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Another social media-related problem can be attributed to depression, and that is internet addiction. Internet addiction is described as an impulse control disorder, which does not involve the use of an intoxicating drug and is very similar to pathological gambling but it is described by some people as an “emotional attachment” to the cyber world which is very dangerous to all of us. People who have an internet addiction disorder often have similar sensations with the people who are addicted to drugs; wherein they see the addiction as an alternative to objectives or desires so that they can feel satisfaction (DeAngelis, 2000). The problems of internet addiction are similar to cyberbullying. People can experience different behaviors that can affect their social skills as a person, work productivity will decrease, sleeping patterns will encounter disturbances and finally, the person may experience depression and have their connection, interaction and social relations with others affected.

Another problem that can stem from excessive use and exposure to social media is stress. Stress may come from maintaining a large network of Facebook friends, feeling envious of the well-documented and well-appointed lives of others, the demands of replying to text messages, chats and emails, having to keep up with status updates on Twitter, and the fear of “missing out” on activities in the lives of friends and family (Hampton, 2015). This fear continues to develop until such time the instincts and peers of people will urge them to stay connected to the internet and updating our posts, statuses and the view of people online on them. These will affect a persons’ anxiety level and self-esteem depending on how he/she is judged in the social or cyber world, but as long as the person thinks that everything that he/she sees on social media can affect his/her life this will develop into a problem and will cause stress to that person and in the process, will ultimately cause depression.

Cyber-bullying, internet addiction, and stress are all factors that can lead to depression. Depression from social media can induce a lot of negative effects on a person going through emotional, psychological and physical aspects of a person. Most depressed people have a dysthymic disorder, and a number of them have a severe mood disorder. The most severe of these is Bipolar disorder and Major Depression. While Major Depression is unrelieved by bouts of mania but mania in terms of extreme emotional distraught.

Bipolar Disorder or sometimes called manic-depressive disorder causes people to alternate between extremes of mania and depression. People with Bipolar disorders people are known to be either extremely happy or angry while depressed people are guilt-ridden, helpless and sad. People with this disorder experience shifts in extreme states of emotions sometimes with timed precision. Speech patterns of manically-depressed people are also rambled. As the person talks about one topic, he/she will then talk about another, which will lead to another topic and so on. (Weiten, 1980).

Another mood disorder that depression can bring is Avoidant Personality Disorder is characterized by long-standing feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to the opinions of other people. Individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder often vigilantly appraise the movements and expressions of those with whom they come into contact. The major problems associated with this disorder occur in social and occupational functioning. The low self-esteem and hypersensitivity to rejection are associated with restricted interpersonal contacts. These individuals may become relatively isolated and usually do not have a large social support network that can help them weather crises. They desire affection and acceptance and may fantasize about idealized relationships with others. (Bessert, 2015).

These disorders can result in another effect of social media-induced depression, introversion. Introversion is especially promising in its relationship to the result or outcome of depression and may represent an underlying heritable trait of etiologic significance. It is likely that introversion acts in concert with other core personality variables, including neuroticism and having a feeling-type personality to influence depression. Considering depression from the perspective of core personality allows for novel psychotherapeutic approaches based on targeting underlying personality variables. (Janowsky, 2001). People who become introverted will inhibit signs akin to that of the Avoidant Personality Disorder wherein the person will choose to detach himself/herself from interacting with other people. When it comes to work, introverts typically prefer to work alone. This isolation can be a significant outcome especially when the person is already depressed as this can lead to an increasingly lower perspective and opinion on oneself that can lead to self-harm and ultimately suicide.

From introversion can come another effect of depression and that is suicide. Suicide is one of the most well-known effects when it comes to depression especially now with numerous cases of teens who commit suicide from clinical depression and cyber-bullying. Suicide is considered a possible complication of depressive illness in combination with other risk factors because suicidal thoughts and behavior can be symptoms of moderate to severe depression. These symptoms typically respond to proper treatment and usually can be avoided with early intervention for depressive illness. Any concerns about suicidal risk should always be taken seriously and evaluated by a qualified professional immediately. (“Suicide and Depression”, 2013). Since social media nowadays has become so accessible to teenagers that it places them at a higher risk of experiencing social media-related problems and in turn, bring to them the harms of experiencing depression that can bring adverse effects upon how they interact with others.

First, to the teenagers themselves, that they should help raise awareness of the issue of depression and learn self-control so that they can solve these problems themselves and can help other teenagers. Social media has a lot of potential to be used for progress and connecting people, but we should not forget that it is something that we should never abuse to avoid problems for teens like depression. After all, the internet was made to connect people, not the opposite.

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