Take Control of Your Life Today
Have you noticed yourself losing track of time when browsing a social media site? Saving and bookmarking ideas for videos you rarely create? Are you spending hours creating a reel for Instagram with zero return on investment? Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok are designed to be addictive, using algorithms and features to keep users engaged. These platforms employ infinite scrolling, push notifications, and personalised content to maintain user attention and encourage continuous use.
Things are even worse for our neurodivergent loved ones. Vulnerable members of our communities, such as individuals with autism, may be at a higher risk for developing a problem with social media use.
Social media addiction has become a growing concern in recent years due to the increased usage and dependence on online platforms. In January 2023, there were 57.10 million social media users across the UK, with many spending several hours per day on these platforms. This increased engagement can negatively impact mental health, relationships, and overall wellbeing. For instance, excessive social media use is associated with increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
How Does Social Media Addiction Develop?
Behavioural addictions, the umbrella term for process addictions such as social media addiction, are related to actions that boost the production of dopamine in our brain, the ‘feel-good chemical’. With social media, it’s all about recognition, attention and momentary achievements. While influencers promote how much they make per year on social media and boast about their new sponsorship contracts, most of the users on these platforms do not earn equal to the time and money invested in creating content for their channels.
Peer pressure is the driving force of social media addiction. Everyone is on social media. Your colleagues at work want your Facebook account, your love interest wants your Instagram tag to see your photos and chat, and even your neighbours have created a Facebook group for the neighbourhood to discuss relevant topics. Want a quick reply to a query regarding item availability at a chosen store? DM them on social media. Want to find beta readers for your book? Tweet about it using relevant hashtags. But while everyone pushes us to use these platforms, many fail to recognise that problematic social media use is real, and your mental health depends on your skills to regulate social media use.
If you are predisposed to abusing behaviours or substances, you must be careful with how much time you spend online. Scrolling your feed for hours at a time might be the best distraction from stress and negative feelings, but it is not a solution to the problem. All this does is aggravate the situation.
The third most important element that makes social media addictive is the dopamine rush. As we previously mentioned, this chemical causes a ‘high’ in the brain because it is usually produced when we feel euphoric, have succeeded at a challenge, or experienced a great moment. In the context of social media, notifications at the top of the screen, likes, follows, and comments piling up on the screen can have the same effect.
Recognising the Signs of Problematic Social Media Usage
If you’re overusing social media, you may have discovered a change in your behaviour. From decreased real-life interactions to social anxiety to becoming diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, abusing these platforms is often a gateway to more problematic behaviours. Many who come to us for help suffer from broken real-life relationships, internet addiction, and professional and academic complications due to excessive social media usage.
Physical Symptoms of Social Media Abuse
Social media can have a negative impact on your physical health. Symptoms related to this behavioural addiction include:
Drastically increased or decreased physical activity
Drastic changes in eating regimes
Switching to a more sedentary life
Trusting unlicensed social media accounts when it comes to exercise, dieting, life changes, medications, and other choices related to your health can greatly impact your physical health.
- Remember the last time you suddenly stopped scrolling and discovered you’d just wasted three hours of your day doing practically nothing? This lack of accountability and control is an early sign that you may need to take a break.
- One of the primary signs of social media addiction is the excessive time spent on these platforms, often leading to the neglect of personal and professional responsibilities. This compulsive behaviour can result in mood swings, feelings of anxiety, depression or irritability taking over. The severity of negative emotions evolves when a social media platform is ‘down’ or inaccessible.
- Social withdrawal is another common symptom of social media addiction, as individuals may prioritise their online connections over face-to-face relationships. This can harm or worsen mental health, as studies have shown that excessive social media use is associated with increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
- Are you worried about how social media affects your productivity? Some of our clients have admitted to difficulty concentrating on tasks and even experienced a decline in work or academic performance because they couldn’t stop scrolling through their feeds.
Our evidence-based approach addresses the underlying causes of social media addiction and provides the necessary tools and support for long-term management. By choosing CATCH Recovery, you will take the first step towards a healthier, more balanced life.
Social Media Sites and Mental Health
Behavioural addictions are often causes or consequences of pre-existing mental health issues. For example, in adults with ADHD, social media can become a saving grace from an overwhelming day at work or a haven from responsibilities.
Many surveys and research materials suggest that people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are more likely to engage in problematic internet use, including social media addiction, than their neurotypical peers. The many ways in which social media sites use behavioural research to enforce their platform’s benefits work even better in people within the spectrum.
But social media addiction can also cause mental health issues. A recent discovery informed us that social media apps are linked to depression in young adults. As part of this research, people who were not actively using social networking sites were asked about their emotions, providing little concern for depression. When they came back, though, these same people admitted that they have started feeling down and depressed as a direct consequence of their regular access to Snapchat, Facebook and TikTok.
Using Social Media for Misdiagnosing Ourselves Is Dangerous
‘Do not Google your symptoms’ was the motto of the 2010s, so in 2023, we browse information on social media instead. However, social media’s unlimited access to real-life stories comes with unlimited opportunities to misdiagnose ourselves. Abusing social media for self-diagnosing may cause anxiety, depression, extreme levels of worry, loneliness and other side effects.
Social Media Can Help Raise Awareness
However, we need to give credit to social media platforms because they allow many charities, foundations, organisations, hotlines, treatment centres and people who have experienced mental health issues to raise awareness. We at CATCH Recovery use our social channels to promote addiction awareness, share success stories and connect with people looking for help for addiction or poor mental health.
Can Social Media Addiction Co-Exist with Other Addictions?
Your interests affect how you use social media, and it’s easy to abuse this access to a plethora of information if you suffer from an addiction or other compulsions.
Shopping Addiction and Social Media Platforms
One such behaviour is shopping. Shopping addiction is another process which has a high potential for addiction. According to a study conducted by the University of Derby, individuals with higher levels of social media addiction were more likely to make impulsive purchases online. This can lead to excessive spending and financial strain. Influencers try to sell us cleaning products, clothes and technology, which they claim is the best on the market. They use pretty filters, trending sounds and wide smiles to convince us of this. Many people admit they have been ‘influenced’ into buying things they never needed but considered interesting at that moment. While it is not a concern for many, people who are fighting a shopping addiction need to control their use and maybe consider staying away from these platforms altogether.
Alcohol Abuse and Social Apps
According to research by the University College London, social media use has been linked to heavier alcohol drinking in adolescents. They reviewed data showing that increased social media use among those tested also came with increased alcohol consumption. The reasoning behind this discovery is multifaceted and includes time spent with friends chatting, looking at ads and interacting with specific channels.
Seeking Help for Your Social Media Overuse
The importance of seeking professional help for social media addiction cannot be overstated. Early intervention, tailored treatment plans, mental health risks, long-term recovery, and the prevalence of social media all play crucial roles in addressing this growing issue.
Early intervention is vital in preventing the escalation of social media addiction and its associated negative consequences. By seeking professional help early on, you can mitigate the potential harm caused by excessive social media use.
Tailored treatment plans are essential in addressing your needs. Our team of specialists can provide personalised strategies and a sort of coping mechanism to help you regain control over your social media use and improve your overall well-being.
You are already thinking about your unhealthy social media use, so let’s talk. Our team is available 24/7 to discuss the next steps and treatment options.
Social Media Addiction Treatment with CATCH Recovery
We at CATCH Recovery believe in looking at each person as an individual with unique needs, history and problems. This is why we have a multi-step assessment process. After you reach out to us, we will have a chat and discuss your situation, taking into account where you are and where you come from. We will then assign a time for your initial assessment, where we will consider the treatment options and plan your sessions. Setting a schedule will help you take control of your compulsion. The plan may include any or all of the following therapies:
Cognitive behavioural therapy is an evidence-based method which has been proven effective in treating various forms of addiction. Mental health risks associated with social media addiction are a significant concern, as excessive social media use has been linked to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. CBT will help us work through the underlying causes of problematic social media use and develop better coping mechanisms.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is another traditional type of psychotherapy where you will review your attitude towards different triggers and reconsider it. By looking back at your behaviours in stressful situations and reinventing them for a better outcome, you will equip yourself with new strategies and mechanisms.
Family therapy is a proven method for treating social media addiction. During these sessions, our specialist counsellor will create a friendly environment where you and your loved ones can share concerns, discuss challenges and find solutions for them.
All our therapies are provided in either a group or individual setting, depending on an assessment of your needs, mental health and social habits. There are also options for online therapy sessions with our specialist counsellors.
Free Yourself from Social Media Addiction Today!
Breaking free from social media addiction is a powerful step towards a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. With evidence-based treatment options, you can find much-needed support to overcome your addiction and rediscover your true passions and purpose.
Don’t let social media control your life any longer – take the first step towards recovery today. Reach out to a qualified addiction specialist or treatment provider to learn more about how you can benefit from treatment and start living the life you deserve.