In a world where we are constantly connected to everyone, it is difficult to not put your own life under scrutiny. We see the image of a perfect life that others portray on their social media and immediately assume that we are living a less-worthy life.
Moreover, due to social networking, our daily face-to-face interactions have reduced, resulting in a slow loss of our social support system, said the researchers at the Flinders University in Australia.
As a result, depression and other mental health issues can arise due to excessive consumption of social media, up to ‘three degrees of separation,’ reported Indian Express. Social media consumption is also being linked to increasing ‘deaths of despair’ which is directly linked to alcohol and opiate overdose and suicidal tendencies. It was published in a study by The Lancet Journal.
“Despair and distress can spread through social networks,” said Tarun Bastiampillai, professor at the Flinders University. “The major implication is that instead of only resorting to medication, or individual psychological treatment, clinicians should also look to immediate social networks and wider social context including the influences of friends and family and wellbeing at work,” Bastiampillai said.
The extent of the social media influence on us is extended to a social network of around 150 people, the size of an average village. This number encompasses our friends, ‘friends of friends’ and ‘friends of friends of friends’. Thus, psychologists and psychiatrists may have to look beyond an individual’s personality and immediate social circle to get to the root of the problem.
The source of an individual’s mental illness can possibly lie in the wider social network so it is important to assess its positive or negative impacts. A new remedy that doctors are now using is social prescribing. Patients with depression are asked to engage in positive activities and networking with their social media circle rather than cut off from social media altogether.