A Powerful Link Between Facebook and Mental Health A Powerful Link Between Facebook and Mental Health

A Powerful Link Between Facebook and Mental Health

There may be a link between Facebook and mental health.

You have access to them all anytime you want. They all care about you because you always get a lot of likes when you post something online about your life. You ask them for prayers when you are going through trying times and they give you feedback each and every time you post a selfie.

What could possibly be wrong with Facebook?

Facebook and Mental Health

Facebook’s founder is Mark Zuckerberg who created the social media network to help others connect and stay in touch.

Even he had no idea Facebook would be as big as it is around the world. Social media offers users a direct connection with family and friends. In addition, social media has changed the way people interact and communicate.

Just a decade or more ago it was common to email someone or call them on the telephone and wait for a response. You may even expect to have waited a whole day or longer to hear back from that person. Not today, however. If someone waits longer than ten minutes for a Facebook response then paranoia sets in and brings its cousin anger with it. Your thoughts start racing as to why your Facebook friend has not responded to you. Although the truth may be that they were in a meeting, you are thinking they are mad at you.

Facebook allows you to follow (or unfollow) a person’s posts without the even knowing. It allows you to block a person altogether and they can’t find you anywhere on the site. You can even remain friends with someone but block them from seeing any of your posts. Facebook is kind of crazy when you think about it.

Every day there are over 600,000 hack attempts made on Facebook. That is insanity. How can they possibly keep our entire information safe with that many attempts? This just gives you one more thing to worry about when it comes to Facebook. Facebook has millions of real and fake users, making Facebook’s population four times greater than the population of the USA.

For every study that says Facebook can be beneficial, just as many studies claim it is bad for your mental health.

The Downside

Some of the negative notes on Facebook are that cyberbullying can occur and cause some to be depressed and anxious, people become jealous or envious which leads to depression and even attention deficit disorders are triggered by the constant feed of brief posts.

Some cases of cyberbullying have led to suicide attempts. It seems like people don’t realize their words can still hurt even though they are not said in person. When those hurtful words are said in front of the hundreds of friends a person has online, it can be more damaging.

Self-esteem is also affected by what you read and see on Facebook. You get home after a long day at a job your hate, log in to Facebook only to see your high school bestie just got a new car, a present from her new man who is completely loaded. You look around at your tiny apartment and wonder when your man will be showing up. You start to feel sad about your life. But what you don’t know is that your old school bestie is not being 100 percent honest on Facebook. A lot of people call Facebook “fake book” and with good reason. Many people online only show you the fake information about their lives and not the reality. Your friend with the new car may have gotten that car on her own credit card and just claimed it was from her abusive boyfriend. Unless you are in their situation directly, you don’t really know what you can believe and what you can’t.

There are times when we are on Facebook and we see a post from someone that angers us. We react. Facebook can bring out the worst side of you. Or maybe they were angered at the grocery store and feel the need to complain about it on Facebook. They may post things like, “If you hit my car again I will find you and make you pay.” Um, who are they talking to? Do they think the guy that hit them is going to see their post? Most likely just want the attention they receive from their Facebook friends.

Some researchers claim Facebook can trigger eating disorders. This happens because people post inaccurate pictures of themselves, pictures that have been photo-shopped, and others compare themselves to the fake pictures. Even pictures of celebrities have been photo-shopped and even though most of America has this knowledge, it is still common to make the comparison. People want to look as good as the models and they will do anything to achieve that goal, including developing an unhealthy relationship with food.

On the other hand, people who are overweight sometimes get bullied and that leads to that person having an eating disorder, to stop the bullying.

Facebook has been shown to damage all kinds of relationships. Posts and comments have caused fights between spouses, extended family, co-workers and friends. Re-connecting with old flames has also damaged relationships. That spark you had with that person can temporarily return when you reconnect on Facebook. This causes doubts and sometimes breakups among couples. It has even been considered cheating to some who catch their significant others online with an old flame. If it is done in secret, it’s not a good thing.

Facebook stalking has become an issue that can affect your mental health as well. This is a very dangerous area that borders criminal activity. Do you spend too much time scrolling on the pages of others? If so, this is not healthy. Whether you are being stalked or you are the one doing the stalking, it is time to get help.

It’s an Obsession

Facebook obsession can give you a false sense of belonging. Your number of friends on Facebook is not the same as the actual number of friends you have in real life. If you get locked up in jail how many of your Facebook friends will actually show up to bail you out? If you get put in the hospital, how many will visit you or send you flowers? They may send you a picture of flowers but truthfully, they wouldn’t even know you were in the hospital if you didn’t post it online.

It is quite amazing how people say they want to have a private life but they will put every single detail of their life online. It is almost like they are fascinated to the response they get from others.

Being obsessed with your phone or Facebook can cause a series of problems including poor hygiene because your phone is so dirty and because people can’t even go to the bathroom without their phones anymore. This is just gross. You don’t need to go the bathroom with your cell phone.

Also, people take major risks such as texting while driving just to stay in touch. I promise that text can wait. People can hardly walk without looking at their phones, running into telephone poles or walls due to not paying attention to where they are going. What news is so important that it can’t wait until you arrive at your destination?

Social media can lead to the fear of missing out (FOMO). People get so scared they are going to be the last to receive information, or gossip, that they have actually developed a title for this problem. The fear of missing out syndrome.

Then there is the selfie. Everyone feels they need to take a photo of themselves and post it on their timeline. Selfies are taken everywhere. While it seems fun to post a picture of you doing something different every day, this can also border on the side of unhealthy. Selfies create a narcissistic personality. If this habit is taken too far, you can begin to spend too much time worrying over a photo and not enough time on important things, like spending time with family and friends in the real world.

Not everything associated with Facebook is bad, however.

The Upside

Benefits of Facebook include giving you a sense of belonging, decreasing isolation and connecting people with one another. Everyone wants to fit in. It is a natural desire; we all want to belong to a group so we do not feel alone in this world. Facebook solves that problem easily because it automatically connects you hundreds of other people. You have access to their profiles, their gossip, their inside scoop. Knowing intimate details about someone does allow you to feel close to that person, just like you have been friends for years.

Social media, if used properly, can be a tool to reduce the stigma of mental illness. By talking about mental health and sharing that with others on Facebook, you could be contributing to the acceptance of mental illnesses and helping others understand the truth about mental health disorders.

Benefits for Therapists

Therapists can get a clear and complete picture of a patient’s mental health status by looking at their Facebook status. Many times patients do not want to reveal the whole truth to their counselors. Whether it is out of a lack of trust, fear of being abused or abandoned, or simply waiting until rapport is built, many patients are not comfortable telling their life stories until they feel they will not be harmed in any way. There are other situations where a client does not really want to be in therapy in the first place so they limit what they tell the counselor hoping for an early successful discharge. Withholding information from your counselor is not helpful. They don’t know how to diagnose or treat you without the correct information.

In such cases, counselors may look on their client’s social media pages to try and understand their client better. While people won’t tell their problems to a therapist, they often do talk about their problems on social media. Language used by a patient online can give practitioners a clue to their mental clarity, allowing therapists and doctors to assess levels of suicidal ideations, depression and anxiety.

Counselors won’t do this without the permission of their client, of course. And counselors know not to ever violate confidentiality rights of their clients. However, if getting online can offer a tiny bit of insight into the issues facing their clients, they will be able to better help them recover from any mental health issues.

Facebook Prevention

There was no how-to manual when Facebook arrived. Everyone just logged on and started communicating. Looking back, there needed to be some kind of warning or prevention steps to help people avoid the down sides of social media.

One way to prevent Facebook from harming your mental health involves limiting your time online and giving your brain time to relax. Some people spend hours upon hours online. You know who they are. They are the ones that every time you pull up Facebook they have posted a new thought or photo. When do they have time to do any work? They must be pretty good at multi-tasking.

Now that we know the effects of Facebook are worse in the summer, especially on teens, we can help prevent negative mental health issues by limiting the time spent on Facebook during the summer. Fill a teen’s time with beneficial activities like work or volunteering rather than letting them be on Facebook all day.

People need to be taught how to properly use social media such as Facebook.

Predator prevention is getting a lot of attention in trying to stop criminals from preying on those who are vulnerable online. Students are being taught that the person they think they are communicating with may not actually be real. Meaning, they may think they are talking to another 16 year old student when actually it is a 46 year old pretending to be 16 just to lure them into something dangerous. But this type of education is not enough.

We need to do more to educate people on the benefits and dangers of Facebook. We need guidelines to help us determine whether or not it is a good idea to become friends with someone online. We need to be taught how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from online predators. We just need more.

Until then, it is up to you to protect yourself. Err on the side of caution and limit your Facebook communications to those who you truly know. Value yourself enough to get help if you think you need it. Report any cyber bullies.

Ask yourself questions about how you feel after being on Facebook. Do you feel worse after logging in or better? If you notice yourself getting frustrated, jealous, angry or defeated after being on Facebook, then it is not a positive thing to have in your life. If you find yourself feeling happy and upbeat after being online, keep it.

Weigh the pros of being on Facebook and if they don’t outweigh the cons, log off. Sometimes just logging off is a great benefit. You decide.