The correlation between social media use and anxiety disorders has been a topic of debate in recent years. Some studies have suggested that spending too much time on social media can result in increased levels of anxiety, while others have found no significant link between the two. In order to better understand this complex relationship, it is important to examine the available research on the subject.
The most commonly cited research into the relationship between social media use and anxiety disorders is a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh in 2017. This study found that, out of 1,787 young adults, those who reported spending the most time online were more likely to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and depressive symptoms. The study also found that frequent social media users were more likely to experience increased levels of anxiety when exposed to negative media content.
Despite this research, it is important to note that correlation does not equal causation. While it is possible that the heavy use of social media can be a contributing factor to anxiety disorders, it is also possible that those with anxiety disorders may be drawn to the distraction and comfort of social media. As such, it is difficult to definitively state that increased use of social media leads to an increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
The correlation between social media use and anxiety disorders extends beyond generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Research has also found a link between increased social media use and increased levels of stress, fear of missing out (FOMO) and body image concerns. For example, one study found that those who spent more time on social media reported a higher level of stress related to their body image.
In addition to the psychological effects of social media use, there are also physical effects to consider. Increased amounts of screen time have been associated with sleep disturbances, which can further exacerbate feelings of anxiety. Furthermore, social media can disrupt healthy eating habits due to the endless stream of food-related content, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Though the evidence points to a link between social media use and anxiety disorders, it is important to remember that this link is not necessarily causal. There are many potential contributing factors to anxiety disorders, and it is likely that social media use is just one component. As such, it is important to be mindful of how much time you spend online, as too much can lead to negative psychological and physical effects. Additionally, it is important to seek professional help if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.