We know that mental health issues and substance use disorders tend to go hand in hand. Many people begin drinking or using drugs in the first place because they are trying to cope with anxiety, depression, or other mental or emotional problems. Depression is a more widespread problem than you might think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3.1 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2016, along with an estimated 16.2 million adults over the age of 18. It makes sense, then, that if we could address some of the causes of depression, we might prevent more people from developing substance use problems. There are many reasons people develop depression, both chemical and environmental, but this article will focus on just one: social media.

It might sound ridiculous, of all the things that can happen in life, to focus on the effect of social media on people’s mental states. The truth is, it can play a huge role in how you’re viewed and treated by others, and it can affect your moods and even your feelings of self-worth if you let it. Teens are already so focused on how their peers perceive them that being portrayed negatively on social media can be devastating. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for people to spread false information. One teenager posting a lie about something another has said or done can spread to an entire school in a matter of hours, and before you know it, that lie has become fact. It’s also easy enough to alter pictures to make it look like someone was in a situation that they weren’t. That’s not even taking into account that something really did happen that they’d like to keep secret, like nude photographs or evidence that they were doing something illegal.

Social media also seems to be good at making us feel bad about ourselves. People tend to only post the good things about their lives, so it’s easy to look at it and think that everyone has it better than you. If you’re already struggling with feelings of self-worth, the last thing you want to see is that the ex who dumped you a couple of years ago is engaged to someone else, or that the school rival you always hated just got their dream job.

SOCIAL MEDIA, DEPRESSION, AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

How do you keep from falling down this hole? The obvious answer is to avoid social media, although some people are so obsessed that it would be like asking them to give up water. At the least, you can block the people you know are likely to upset you or avoid checking your feeds on days when you’re already feeling down. Just try to remember that your worth as a person isn’t based on what anyone else thinks about you. If you aren’t already getting help for your depression, consult a doctor or therapist who can help you learn how to manage it.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.