The Link Between Social Media and Mental Health

Maybe you’ve already wondered whether social media could affect your mental health. Perhaps you’ve noticed the addictive feeling of getting “likes” on your photos and status updates, or maybe you’ve realized that you have a tendency to compare your life and appearance to others on social media. In this article, we’ll go over some of the positive and negative effects that social media can have on your mental health.

The Positive Effects:

  • Increased self-esteem: For some people, social media can boost self-esteem! This mainly applies to people who receive overwhelmingly positive feedback on their posts. 
  • A way for socially anxious people to socialize: Many people who have social anxiety struggle to communicate with others in person, but typing out messages tends to be much easier for them. Because of this, social media can be very empowering for those who get anxious speaking to others face-to-face.
  • Supports connections: The original aim of social media was to offer people a way to connect with others, and it does fulfill this purpose. For many people, social media is the only way they can communicate with certain friends and family members.

The Negative Effects:

  • Designed to be addictive: Social media platforms are designed to keep you coming back. The dopamine that’s released when you receive likes and comments on your posts gives you an immediate boost, but it doesn’t last–so you end up logging back onto Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram several times a day. This can turn into a legitimate addiction and cause all sorts of long-term issues!
  • Distracts from responsibilities: Social media users often find it difficult to concentrate on work or schoolwork for long periods of time because they feel the need to scroll through social media every few minutes. After interrupting their concentration, it tends to be very difficult to get back into “work mode” again.
  • Linked to anxiety and depression: Social media is closely associated with anxiety and depression. In fact, one study showed that people who used social media infrequently were three times less likely to develop depression than heavy users. For more information regarding mental health topics, take a look at
  • Problems with self-esteem: Social media can lead to low self-esteem, but it can also make users self-absorbed to the point that they care more about their online persona than their real life and relationships.
  • Fear of missing out: The fear of missing out, or FOMO, is so prevalent that people will often scroll through social media constantly, just to be sure they’re not missing anything. Unfortunately, this can cause them to miss out on what’s happening in real life!
  • Physical ailments: As strange as it may sound, avid social media users can develop physical problems such as headaches, tremors, nausea, and muscle tension. These physical issues stem from the depression and anxiety that can be caused by frequent social media use. 
  • A form of escapism: Social media provides a way to escape from negative feelings rather than confronting them. Unfortunately, pushing feelings aside rather than dealing with them leads to deeper mental health issues.
  • Impulse control problems: Frequent social media use leads to problems with focus and concentration, and it can even negatively affect sleep patterns. 
  • The youngest users suffer the worst effects: Sadly, those who are the most affected by social media’s link to mental health are the people who began using it at a young age. The earlier you begin using social media, the more severe the negative effects like addiction, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

The Bottom Line

It’s easy to see that social media comes with both positive and negative effects. Whether social media is good or bad for us overall is a highly contested and controversial topic in today’s world. After reading through our list of the links between social media and mental health, we’ll let you decide for yourself.

Marie Miguel
Marie Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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