Social Media and Mental Health

Social Media and Mental Health – Is Social Media Making You Sad?

Social media and mental health go hand in hand these days. If you have social media anxiety, you’re not alone. Many of my therapy clients and life coaching clients tell me they feel more depressed after they log on to a social media site like Facebook or Instagram and it’s not hard to see why.

Engagement rings, new babies, huge houses, beautiful vacations, and tales of spouses doing eye-mistingly touching things scroll up endlessly. You should be happy for your friends, right? That their lives are so wonderful and amazing is a glorious thing, right? 

But it still makes your stomach tighten into a fist as you think of your own diamond-less, baby-less life. You can’t help but compare your house to theirs, your vacation to theirs, and… worst of all… your partner to theirs.

  • Like how he surprised her with five hundred cheerios arranged on the table to say, “I love you!” and orchestrated a serenade of “You Are My Sunshine” by their three young children when she walked in for breakfast — just because!
  • Like how she devised a multi-day treasure hunt involving GPS, clues handed by anonymous “strangers” and a midnight trip on a crosstown bus culminating in the discovery of front-row concert tickets for him to see his idol live on stage, only to be met there by the two best friends she’d arranged to fly in from each coast for the event.

Three minutes ago you were fine, simply having a quiet evening at home with your spouse. Now you can’t stop thinking about the fact that your partner can barely be bothered to pick up a cheerio off the floor and might struggle to pick your best friend out of a lineup— even if you could tear him away from the Xbox.

Or worse yet, you and your honey broke up months ago, and you now are assaulted with posts of his or her gleeful selfies with new attractive strangers.

Even if you’re a person with strong emotional intelligence, and can recognize that the feelings you have aren’t the most rational, it probably won’t stop you from still feeling a twinge of envy every time you see someone posting a new car.

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The Impact of Social Media and Mental Health

It’s not just you; more people than you’d expect feel like taking a Xanax and/or fire-bombing their lives after a ten-minute Facebook session.

How do I know this? Because I am a therapist, and people tell me their secrets. My clients are some of the most poised, socially savvy, outwardly successful, wealthy, and gorgeous people you’ll ever meet. But they don’t feel that way when they are looking at Facebook. They feel like they are failing at life, and it makes them anxious as hell (and that’s not just my opinion: research links the use of Facebook to increased feelings of depression).

Even worse, their social media, and the assumptions they make about others because of it, can actually create more distance and separation in their lives. Feeling anxious and self-conscious about their own life and achievements pressures people into image management. Increasingly careful about what they share they start to feel more isolated instead of more connected.

The net result? They feel anxious, dissatisfied with their lives, and lonely (and like there is something terribly wrong with them because they feel this way).

As Brené Brown so beautifully outlined for the world in her TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability” shame leads us to hide and disconnect in efforts to protect ourselves. The anxiety-generating machine of Facebook then, ironically, becomes the antitheses of the connection it was intended to create.

Listen to Social Media and Mental Health

Today on the Love, Happiness and Success podcast, I’m sharing some insights with you that will help ease your anxiety over social media and mental health and restore connection in your life. 

We’ll be talking about a marvelous theory posed by Tim Urban in his blog “Wait But Why” about why social media makes people unhappy, as well as how the culture of curation is eroding authenticity and vulnerability.

I’ll be sharing a cautionary tale from my own life about the potential for tragedy from taking Facebook at face value (how social media and mental health go hand in hand). Lastly, I’ll be sharing some actionable ideas that will help you stop judging your own life, and restore your bond with the people you care about.

Ready to change your relationship with social media? You might also enjoy this article from the Huffington Post: 7 Types Of People You Should Unfriend On Facebook ASAP.

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Social Media and Mental Health

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6 Comments

  1. Now, let’s get real. In the podcast, in the spirit of “radical authenticity” I shared a story about how a close friend and I became disconnected from each other during a time that we really needed each other because of the pitfalls of social media. Has there been a time in your life that social media got in the way of your connection, or made you feel “less than?” If so please share in the comments — it will help others feel less alone. xo, Lisa

  2. All my boyfriend’s best friends are engaged, married, or living together and always posting pics of “living the life”: multiple photo shoots, new babies, frequent vacations, going out all the time, etc.

    Being that I’m late-20’s, still living at home and struggling to define a career, I find the Facebook posts of his friends incredibly irritating. Particularly because I also know some personal details of one couple in particular… And the lack of consideration and thoughtlessness they seem to apply to their own families in real life. It’s annoying to me to perpetrate online while harming relationships in real life.

    Otherwise- the posting just feels inauthentic and a slap in my face. My boyfriend and I are not in the same space or point in development as these other couples– and yet are expected to constantly double-date with them and praise/admire their progress. Puh-lease.

    1. I hear you Ashley. Your story sounds like that of many of my clients — wanting more for your life, and getting triggered by posts of people who seem to “have it all.” I can see how it would be especially challenging in this case when you know first hand that what’s being shared is very different than the reality of the situation. The falseness of it feels maddening. Reason #236 to not take what we see on social media too seriously! Thanks for sharing your story — I know many other people must feel the same way you do, and your giving it a voice is very helpful to everyone… Lisa

  3. Now, let’s get real. In the podcast, in the spirit of “radical authenticity” I shared a story about how a close friend and I became disconnected from each other during a time that we really needed each other because of the pitfalls of social media. Has there been a time in your life that social media got in the way of your connection, or made you feel “less than?” If so please share in the comments — it will help others feel less alone. xo, Lisa

  4. All my boyfriend’s best friends are engaged, married, or living together and always posting pics of “living the life”: multiple photo shoots, new babies, frequent vacations, going out all the time, etc.

    Being that I’m late-20’s, still living at home and struggling to define a career, I find the Facebook posts of his friends incredibly irritating. Particularly because I also know some personal details of one couple in particular… And the lack of consideration and thoughtlessness they seem to apply to their own families in real life. It’s annoying to me to perpetrate online while harming relationships in real life.

    Otherwise- the posting just feels inauthentic and a slap in my face. My boyfriend and I are not in the same space or point in development as these other couples– and yet are expected to constantly double-date with them and praise/admire their progress. Puh-lease.

  5. I hear you Ashley. Your story sounds like that of many of my clients — wanting more for your life, and getting triggered by posts of people who seem to “have it all.” I can see how it would be especially challenging in this case when you know first hand that what’s being shared is very different than the reality of the situation. The falseness of it feels maddening. Reason #236 to not take what we see on social media too seriously! Thanks for sharing your story — I know many other people must feel the same way you do, and your giving it a voice is very helpful to everyone… Lisa

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