Is it normal to have social media depression?

Although there is no formal diagnosis or official term for it, there is strong evidence to suggest social media can play a large role in causing depression. With 24-hour access to virtually anything - from viewing people's 'perfect' lives on Facebook to reading shocking breaking news from around the world, it's no surprise that the intensity of social media can trigger negative emotions.

On Kids on the Edge: Troubled Girls, 17-year-old Demi, pictured above, suffers from anxiety and depression. Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr. Alex Sales points out that due to her access to social media, Demi's conflicts with other people are more enhanced and intense because in the world of social media, nobody sleeps and any conversation goes. When asked if social media fills a hole in her heart, Demi says "no, it creates one."

Watch Kids on the Edge: Troubled Girls here.

How can you know if you have social media depression and what can you do to help yourself and others who you think may be suffering from it? Let's find out...

Social media emotions

Depression is one of the most intense side effects of a social media obsession, but there are also a range of other negative emotions that can be triggered by your Facebook fixation. These include:
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Jealousy
  • Stress
  • Pressure (to look, be, or behave a certain way)

Although you may feel that these emotions are manageable, there is always the chance that without keeping them under control, you could go on to develop depression.

The triggers

There are various aspects of social media, and the way you interact with it, that could prompt feelings of depression. Some may be obvious, others have probably never even crossed your mind...

Social Media OCD

How often would you say you instinctively pick up your phone to check your messages? Once, twice, three times every hour? Or should we instead be asking how many times do you check your messages per MINUTE? If you find yourself compulsively checking your social media, you may have social media OCD. Although it may feel like an automatic action, it can be exhausting and could restrict you from carrying out other, more important activities.



It's not rare to get the fear of missing out, and social media posts can often trigger this feeling - everyone looks like they're having the time of their life at that party, whilst you're sat at home in your PJ's. Usually however, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Which leads us onto...


The Greener Grass

Generally, people will post positive things on social media and put a funny spin on something negative, making us think that everyone is happier and better off than we are. Here are six handy words for you: Don't. trust. everything. you. see. online. Except for this, you can trust this.

People don't usually want to publicise the bad aspects of their life, so why would they share them on social media?


Feelings of neglect

No one's posted anything about you today, no one's texted you, or commented on your hilarious Tweet. Hmmm, the internet is probably down for the day... or everyone just hates me. It's easy to fall into this state of mind, but it's important to take a step back and think rationally. Just because your post didn't get the attention you felt it deserved, or you've seen those WhatsApp ticks have gone blue and you haven't received a reply, doesn't mean someone has suddenly set up a 'We Hate [insert name here] Club' that the whole world has decided to sign up to; more likely than not, your post was missed, or that person is currently busy.


The Pain of Being Unfriended

Ever been to check someone's online profile to find they've unfriended you or unfollowed? It's a feeling of rejection that people who don't use social media simply wouldn't be able to grasp. It hurts, but it's not always as devastating as you think it is. Sometimes, it can simply be a slip of the finger, but if you're worried it's something more, how about asking that person directly instead of allowing your imagination to run wild?


Relationship Dramas

It might be tempting to look at your ex's profile or all of your crush's posts, but this almost always ends in tears! The impulse to find out what your ex is up to may be strong, but they've probably moved on and you'll only feel bad for checking. Instead, concentrate on yourself - you'll find your confidence developing the less you focus on other people's lives. If your crush is a celebrity, then they're probably unobtainable, and spending time thinking about how you're going to spend the rest of your lives together is practically guaranteed to not work out the way you imagine! Try sparking up conversations with people closer to home - in college or clubs perhaps, and see where it goes from there...

Managing your media

If you find your obsession with social media spiralling out of control, and causing you to feel depressed, or if you see these reactions in someone you know, there are a couple of things that'll help.

Take a step back

If you do see yourself checking social media so often than other aspects of your life are being disturbed, try and wean yourself off it. If you check it every 5 minutes, try checking it every 15 minutes. If you check every 15, try and only look at it every half an hour, and so on until you don't really feel the need to look at it at all. If your friend is struggling with this, try challenging them to see who can not check their social media the longest. Bet you're getting cold sweats just thinking about it...

Be logical

It's easy to blow something you've seen, or not seen (i.e. - that text you never received), out of proportion, but remember how easy it is to misinterpret a situation. Almost always, there is a rational explanation, so try not to let what you see on social media affect you too personally.

What's the deal with depression?

If you feel that you have depression or would like to learn more, check out the Channel 4 support page

Channel 4 support (This link opens in a new window)

Do you have a question you'd like to see here?

Is it normal to...

We are not able to provide individual answers to questions submitted through the site. This form is only a means of suggesting broader topics you would like to see addressed here in the future and is not monitored daily. If you are distressed we recommend talking to a family member or visiting our 4Viewers (Opens in a new window) for further information on a range of topics.