Recently many people have voiced their concerns to me about experiencing undesirable feelings surrounding social media; symptoms I now entitle as social media induced depression or what can be referenced as a form of “smiling depression”. You may be familiar with this. At some time or another, you may have experienced symptoms of this sort: comparing your lifestyle, relationships, occupation, salary, material assets and body image to those you see on social media. Contributing to a false sense of bliss that is digitally broadcasted, you begin to emotionally harm yourself in a never-ending desire to keep up with your masked cyber friends. Self-doubt sets in at an alarming high and you find yourself obsessing over the need to cultivate your digital identity.
Consequently, you lose touch with your true-self and the expressive skills that once allowed you to authentically cope with your emotions. You begin to dominate the drill of suppressing and denying your issues with the hopes of appearing flawless. When in reality, there is no such thing. This causes you to silently suffer from depressive symptoms like sadness, fear, stress and anxiety.
The good news is that you are not alone! Many people struggle behind virtual facades, dreading failure if they do not attain societal perceptions of happiness and success. While very few post about the failures and the negatives of life, we tend to forget that everyone endures hardships. Some have simply succeeded in hiding behind status text boxes and perfectly angled and filtered “selfies”.
If you or someone you may know experience depressive symptoms brought on by social media follow these brief steps below and contact an Elttila Counselor to guide you on your path to re- birthing your true-self.
1. Reduce your use of time on social sites. Try to focus your energy on healthy face-to-face interactions that make you feel good about yourself.
2. Revisit old goals that you once set out to accomplish. When you feel yourself being consumed by social trends do something that will get you one step closer to accomplishing your own goals.
3. Modify the personal function of social media in your life. For instance, instead of logging on with the intent to compare yourself to others, use the site strictly for keeping in touch with close friends and family.
4. Reach out to friends and family to discuss your feelings. Stir clear of negative self-talk, destructive thoughts and concealing your emotions. If needed, seek professional guidance to help you understand depression and how you can overcome.
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.