WEDNESDAY, May 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — It’s no secret that too much social media can be bad for your mental health. Now, research suggests that even a brief break from TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Staying off social media for a week meant, for some study participants, gaining about nine hours of free time, which improved their well-being, British researchers report.
“If you feel like you’re using too much social media and it’s having a negative impact on your mental health, then taking a break may be worth a try and at least bring you some short-term improvements,” he said. said study author Jeff Lambert, an assistant professor of health psychology at the University of Bath.
These findings could have implications for how people manage their mental health, providing another option to try, Lambert said. “However, more research is needed to examine longer-term effects and whether it is appropriate in a clinical setting,” he added.
For the study, researchers randomly selected 154 people between the ages of 18 and 72 who used social media every day, asking them to either stop using all social media for a week or to continue using social media. use as usual. Study participants spent an average of eight hours a week on social media.
According to the study, those who took a break from social media experienced significant improvements in well-being, depression and anxiety, compared to those who continued to use social media.
Those who took the week-long break used social media an average of 21 minutes, compared to around seven hours for those who didn’t, Lambert said.
The results were recently published in the journal Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networks.
Dr. Scott Krakower, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, thinks that for some people, social media can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety when comparing themselves to others on these sites.
“They may feel inadequate because they’re not like the people they interact with,” he said. “You don’t know anything about them, but you still know a lot of information and you may feel like you’re being left out because of some of the things the other does, which evokes feelings of inadequacy and diminishes self-esteem.”
Krakower doesn’t think abandoning social media altogether is necessarily the best strategy for people who are experiencing negative feelings. It’s best, he says, to develop a plan for managing social media use, which could include visiting these sites less or taking regular short breaks.
“I think if you suspect depression [and] anxiety comes from being online or getting upset looking at things you notice on social media, and it gets in the way of your functioning, so I think you need to take a little break, even if it’s a day or two days, and see how you do,” Krakower said.
“I don’t think you have to walk away completely unless you’re completely addicted, but I do think you have to watch it,” Krakower said.
Another expert said staying off social media isn’t the answer, but rather learning how to use these sites in a healthy way.
“While abstention may indeed improve well-being, it may not be realistic, feasible, or even advisable in the long term,” said Melissa Hunt, associate director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Ultimately, our focus should be on harm reduction with these platforms, not forbearance,” she said. “These platforms have become an important part of everyday life for most people under 30. The real challenge is to help people use the platforms in a conscious and adaptive way.”
McLean Hospital has more on social media and mental health.
SOURCES: Jeff Lambert, PhD, assistant professor, health psychology, University of Bath, England; Melissa Hunt, PhD, Associate Director, Clinical Education, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Scott Krakower, DO, psychiatrist, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, NY; Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networks, May 3, 2022
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