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Friday, August 12, 2022


Social media is to blame for rising depression rates

Depression rates are at an all-time high, and some research is placing the blame on social media.  | Fiona Legesse/The Cougar

Most people know someone who struggles with a mental illness. It has become more prevalent among Americans now than ever.

But in many ways, life has never been easier. We can stream movies from the comfort of our homes or order groceries straight to our door, so why does depression still run rampant? Perhaps it’s a reaction to the advancements society has made, like the invention of smart phones and social media.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five adults in the United States live with a mental illness. This makes the United States the third-most depressed country in the world, with only China and India ahead. While the United States might be the land of prosperity and opportunity, the struggle to find happiness persists.

We live in an era where the amount of likes received on Instagram dictates social status. It can even become a profitable endeavor, which can make the crave for social attention even stronger.

The connection between depression and social media usage doesn’t correlate to causation for mental illness. But since the introduction of smart phones, there has been a rise in depression, especially among young people.

Millennials get a bad break.

They’re accused of being the lazy, entitled, participation trophy generation. Instead of working hard physically, they had to adapt to a technology-driven, industrial world. Proficient handling of smart phones is one of the skills necessary in the new age, and millennials are the most proficient.

This may help millennials land a job in their future endeavors, but being glued to a screen can cause a variety of issues that aren’t beneficial to mental health.

Watching a snap of friends gathering or seeing Instagram followers travel to beautiful locations can all add to the fear of missing out, or FOMO. Not being able to see past the façade of social media posts can cause depressive thoughts about not being included or not leading the ‘perfect’ life that has become the modern standard.

FOMO is brought upon by constant social comparisons while on these apps. This can be a leading cause for depression among users, especially impressionable young viewers. Having insecurities arise at a young age is detrimental to mental health and can be the reason for this spike in adolescent mental health issues.

Rather than the days of old where kids would run rampant outside with their small group of neighborhood friends, they are exposed to the world. They are able to interact with anyone at the touch of a screen and can jump in the front seat of the lives of social media personalities across the globe.

While this can create a more globalized community and be beneficial for industry and markets in the long term, the effect it has on the brain still isn’t fully recognized.

Young adults are vulnerable, especially during those touchy pubescent ages where things aren’t making sense and the world feels like it’s collapsing around you. The last thing needed in that equation is FOMO. There are less extreme options, like eating healthier and exercising regularly, but the void that is social media will continue to eat away at youth psyche.

Assistant Opinion Editor Anthony Cianciulli is a broadcast journalism senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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