Depression. It’s one of the most common mental health issues among adults. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2015.
And depression can be linked to social media, a study by the University of Pittsburgh has found. According to the study, exposure to “highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives,” which can in turn cause those exposed to exhibit indicators of depression.
Some of these indicators are:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
It’s strange, isn’t it? One might think that our increased connectivity would bring us closer, but it seems to be doing the opposite. The “Internet Paradox,” it’s called. Instead of connecting, we’re disconnecting. We make each other up inside our heads, we create fantasy versions of ourselves to interact with fantasy versions of other people, all from the loneliness of our bedrooms and through the veils of ultra-thin computer screens, which separate us far more than reinforced concrete ever could.
This month is National Depression Awareness Month. So let’s be aware— aware of ourselves, aware of our friends and families, aware of the strangers that we interact with in the real world. Let’s disconnect from the fantasies.
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or Internet addiction, call your EAP. Counselors are standing by to help.