Doctors identify social media as source of stress
Posted January 12
Raleigh, N.C. — While many may see social media as indispensable, doctors warn the constant cycle of scrolling through feeds can have an impact on everything from a person's mood to mental health.
"It's on my phone all day long," said Ivy Deaton, a Facebook user. "Until I go to bed at night, I'm scrolling through."
But a quick scroll through Facebook can lift a person's mood or send it tumbling, according to doctors. Numerous studies have proven social media's impact on mood. And now, doctors are taking note.
"It is sort of a vicious cycle of making people more anxious," said Dr. Ley Barnett.
Barnett, with Boylan Healthcare, said she has seen a jump in the number of patients expressing feelings of anxiety or depression. Often, she said, those feelings stem from social media.
The rise in popularity of neighborhood social sites, like Facebook group pages or Nextdoor groups, originally designed to connect members of a community can devolve into catty fighting, name calling, bullying and threats - pitting neighbor against neighbor.
"Like, I know you're letting your dog go in my yard. Can you please pick it up?" said Facebook user Gricelda Lopez.
Barnett said neighborhood social media is not always nice.
"The neighborhood media can draw people closer together, but it also can make for bullying and people feeling micro-managed and not as welcome or safe in their own homes," she said.
Barnett is part of the UNC Physicians Network, which is ramping up its focus on treating social media-related-anxiety. Many primary care practices now include a social worker, and providers will often ask patients about their social media habits.
"There are a lot of patients that do need to talk to somebody," Barnett said.
Doctors recommend setting limits on social media use. They say it can improve not only mental health but overall happiness.
Doctors also recommend choosing battles wisely and steering clear from politics on social media.