Excessive Social Media Usage Is A Leading Cause Of Depression In Americans, APA Says

First Posted: Feb 25, 2017 04:12 AM EST

Addiction to social media usage is a common problem among Americans, adults and youngsters alike. So much so that people cannot stop themselves from checking their phones while brushing their teeth or while waiting for the traffic light to change. They are specifically designated as "constant checkers," and according to a recent survey conducted by American Psychological Association (APA), these constant checkers are highly prone to mental depression.

The report of the survey, titled Stress in America: Coping with Change was recently made public. According to the report, on a scale of 1 to 10, the average level of mental stress in constant checkers is 5.3, which is considerably higher than 4.4, the average mental stress level in people who are not addicted to social media usage. Furthermore, it was found that the stress level rises to 6.0 among people whose jobs rely on Internet usage, i.e., receiving and sending work e-mails and report updates, Yahoo reported.

Dr. Lynn Bufka, who works as associate executive director for practice research and policy at APA, said that while Internet and smartphones have made people's lives easy, at the same time it causes many mental and physical health discrepancies.

The report released by APA also pointed out that most parents struggle to limit social media usage in their children and even for themselves. Around 65 percent of them suggested that a "digital detox" may be a good way of breaking people's dependence and addiction to smartphones and Internet. This can be done by switching off the phone for few hours a day and devoting the time to do something they love, spending time with kids and spouse or just relaxing, Fox News reported.

Numerous theories to combat depression associated with excessive social media usage have been proposed in the last few years. Anthony L. Rostain, who is a professor of psychiatry, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and also the co-author of The Adult ADHD Tool Kit: Using CBT to Facilitate Coping Inside and Out, said that people should start setting definitive guidelines for social media usage and, more importantly, should altogether avoid using smartphones in bed, according to Bloomberg.

Exposure to the blue light coming from the smartphones, especially during bedtime, is associated with suppressing the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone. It disturbs the sleep cycle of people and causes increase in mental stress levels and leads to depression in the long run.

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