Will Using Instagram Too Much Make You Depressed?

Posted by Arch on December 4, 2018

Social media has been on a meteoric rise over the last fifteen years. The end of this upward trend seems to be nowhere in sight, as more and more people around the world join the popular social media platforms on a daily basis. Some of the most popular platforms have recently reached over one billion registered users.

According to a recent study conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, depression is also on the rise in the US, especially among young teens. The study claims that the number of people with depression in the US rose from 6.6% to 7.3% between 2005 and 2015. This begs the question, is there a link between the rise of social media and depression?

The Big Picture

The connection between social media and the rise in depression rates in the USA (and the rest of the western world) has been the subject of a heated debate in recent years. While the majority of experts claim that the social media use and depression are in strong correlation, others claim that there is no link between the two.

A study published in January 2016, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Cancer Institute, has found strong correlation between the use of social media and depression among young Americans. The researchers surveyed 1,787 randomly selected adults aged 19 to 32. The results showed that the time spent on social media was heavily correlated with depression. The subjects filled an online questionnaire about their daily social media usage. Subjects who used social media the most had the highest chance of being depressed, researchers claimed.

On the flipside, a study conducted by a team of experts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and published in July 2012came up with largely different findings. The study included 190 participants aged 18-19 who completed an online survey which contained the Patient Health Questionaire-9. They also submitted a report on their weeklong usage of social media. The study concluded that there was no connection between depression and social media use.

Instagram and Depression

A recent study conducted by United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Young Health Movement (YHM) found that Instagram is the worst among the major social platforms when it comes to depression, anxiety, body image, and loneliness.

RSPH and YHM surveyed around 1,500 UK citizens aged 14 to 24 in early 2017. The participants were asked to rate the major social media platforms on 14 health and well-being issues deemed most significant by the experts. According to the scores given by the participants of the survey, YouTube had the most positive impact on its users’ mental health. Twitter came in second, with Facebook in third and Snapchat in fourth place. Instagram had the lowest score.

What to Do About it

Despite the fact that using too much Instagram could lead to depression, there are many things you can do to prevent it or cope with it. Here are several recommendations:

  1. Spend less time on Instagram. If the time you spend scrolling through the newsfeed takes up too much of your day or stresses you out, you should limit the time you spend within the app. Try to allocate a certain amount of time during the day for Instagram and when it’s up, log out and don’t come back until tomorrow.
  2. Go somewhere else for the news. Many social media users, Instagram users included, use their favorite social media platforms to inform themselves. Scrolling endlessly to find the news on the current events can significantly increase your time on the platform. Going to a news site or buying newspaper might be a good alternative.
  3. Substitute your online time with meaningful offline activities. In order to fill your time outside Instagram in a healthy and effective way, it would be a good idea to pick up a fun hobby. Also, you might want to make a list of interesting activities which you can do instead of scrolling, liking, and sharing.
  4. Healthy and meaningful relationships with your friends and family are your best weapon when fighting Instagram depression. So instead of scrolling through hundreds of posts, go get a cup of coffee or see a movie with a friend. While you’re at it, make sure you don’t start checking notifications in the middle of the conversation.
  5. Remember that people are only showing the highlights of their lives on social media. There are tons of stuff which don’t make it to the newsfeed.

Final Thoughts

With social media being so potent, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the picture-perfect snapshots of other people’s lives and succumb to depression. Luckily, there are ways to cope and overcome this problem. Follow the tips provided in this article to turn the use of social media into a more positive experience.

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