Remember the days when you wrote a letter or called when you wanted to connect with a friend or family member? That’s a quaint, bygone era that’s never coming back, due to the advent of Internet-based social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. As these sites have become more ingrained in our lives, the effects have become apparent — such as links between social media and anxiety.
If it were just about processing anxiety, that would be one thing. But as we know, anxiety and other mood disorders can lead to issues with substance abuse down the road that could lead you to need the help of a drug addiction treatment center in California. Social media and anxiety are not a good combination.
Social Media Facts and Figures
In a very short period, social media has become central to our lives, providing a new forum for connection and communication — in words, video, and pictures. Facebook, for instance, reported 2.5 billion monthly active users at the end of 2019. That’s almost a third of the global population.
For some, it’s become a literal obsession that causes anxiety. Many individuals who utilize social media find themselves in anxiety treatment programs. A 2018 study of a group of about 600 teenagers found that 98 percent reported being on social media “almost constantly,” according to Harvard University.
The teens in this study reported a wide range of sometimes conflicting emotions about their use of social media. For example, some said they felt empowered by their use of Instagram but also worried deeply about being judged by peers.
Clearly, social media has become embedded in our lives. And that has consequences for our mental and physical health.
Social Media and Anxiety
A growing body of research suggests social media and anxiety and other emotions are inextricably linked — almost becoming an addiction unto itself. The Harvard study of youth, for example, indicated that teens were excited to use social as a way of connecting with peers — but, at the same time, felt enormously overwhelmed by the number of messages they needed to respond to.
The mechanism for the connection between social media and anxiety is clear. Social media feeds tend to accentuate the positive. Some people may see friends and family looking happy and prosperous, and this can then drive further anxious feelings when comparing their own life.
The danger to look out for is self-medicating anxiety caused by social media. This can quickly take you down the road of substance abuse.
Anxiety and Substance Abuse
Researchers have developed a significant link between anxiety and substance abuse. Uncontrolled or unprocessed stress puts you at greater risk of experiencing problems with drugs or alcohol.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that about 20 percent of people with anxiety, depression or other mood disorder will turn to drugs or alcohol. The opposite is also true — about 20 percent of people abusing drugs or alcohol will find themselves experiencing chronic anxiety.
The link is important to recognize; it requires special attention because you have something called a co-occurring disorder. People with co-occurring disorders increasingly receive integrated dual diagnosis treatment — where the mood disorder and substance abuse are addressed at the same time. (Usually starting with the substance abuse problem.)
There’s no shame in seeking help, whether your issues arise from social media and anxiety or some other source. Licensed professionals are here to help.
Reduce Anxiety Today
The link between social media and anxiety is easy to see. Everywhere you turn, there’s someone telling you how to live your life; or someone whose persona makes you feel inadequate. If the anxiety caused by social media has led you to substance abuse, now is a good time to act.
The clinical team at Wellness Counseling Vida Entera is ready to stand by your side. Our team of clinical experts is well-versed in all matters pertaining to substance abuse. We offer a full range of addiction and mental health treatment services.