Social media anxiety disorder seems to be a unique mental health disorder that developed alongside the explosion of social media platforms on the market. And it’s a growing concern in the mental health community. According to a recent study about emerging social media anxiety in participants of the social media phenomenon, the results showed a correlation between the amounts of time spent on social media to an increase of symptoms associated with dispositional anxiety.

In America, 40% of the adult population is affected by an anxiety disorder. That’s almost a fifth of its population. Out of those people, only 36.9% receive treatment from a trained medical practitioner. And the number of citizens with a social anxiety disorder might increase as younger generations reach adulthood. It’s a likely scenario.

For example, according to a study published by JAMA Psychiatry, children who spend at least three hours a day on social media have higher risks of developing mental health problems as they age. Some of those social anxiety disorders include anxiety, depression, aggression, and antisocial behaviors.  

Studying Social Media Anxiety Disorder

It’s difficult for researchers to understand how impactful social media is when it comes to it how it affects adolescent brain development. And that fact won’t change any time soon. The problem is technological advancements occur at a quicker pace than it can currently be studied. Until a technological breakthrough transpires for scientific research that bypasses its social media counterpart, then there’s no accurate portrayal of the effect social media plays regarding social media anxiety disorders.

For instance, the study used self-reported information provided to them by the participants, which is an imprecise tool to be used for such an experiment. The scientists have to use the data presented to them voluntarily by the teenagers they’re studying. These adolescent youths might exaggerate the time spent on social media or underestimate it. Then it begs the question of whether the social anxiety disorders that were reported were of an accurate account by those same subjects, too.

Even so, there have been several different experiments that point to the same conclusion. Another experiment conducted on internet addiction disorder of students in Isfahan’s University shows similar results. The report indicated an increase in the same type of social anxiety disorders that were present in others, leaving us to believe it’s no coincidence.

There are even a few common symptoms one can look for to determine whether or not yourself or a loved one is afflicted with a social media anxiety disorder.

Common Symptoms of Social Media Anxiety Disorder

  • Anxiousness or discomfort in social situations when online.
  • Intense emotions and nervous effects (heart racing, sweating, blood pressure) on social media platforms.
  • Using all your spare time on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
  • Withdrawal from loved ones in the physical realm to spend their time with connections or followers online.
  • Anxiety issues when away from a technology that accesses social media platforms.
  • Problems with work, school, or family life as a result of the time spent on social media.
  • Neglecting to eat regularly because it interferes with your social media presence.

As you can see, it has crippling effects associated with a social media anxiety disorder. And the anxiety disorder will only become more prevalent as our society progresses with the digital age. For example, social media monoliths have grown in popularity over the past decade. An estimated 2.5 billion active users are on Facebook. Twitter hosts around 330 million accounts. Instagram recently grew to 1 billion people who use its social media platform.

Overcoming Social Media Anxiety Disorder

But the correlation of time spent on social media sites doesn’t necessarily have to mean higher rates of social media anxiety disorders according to one study. It’s all about the experience that happens on those social media sites.

To illustrate, the overview of reports validates an increase of social media anxiety disorders with individuals who engage in negative interactions on the social media giants. But if you’re focused on positive experiences, social support, and utilizing a constructive encounter with a community on the opposite end, then lower levels of depression and anxiety were found in those subjects.

So, in the end, the effect of social media on one’s life might correspond to what you’re trying to get out of it. These social media sites give you the ability to mute or cut unwanted people/interactions from the time you spend on them. Take advantage of those options. If you do, then social media anxiety disorders might become a mental illness we’re able to control and understand as the digital age advances.