Social Media Addiction Blamed for Higher Stress

A new study reveals that social media is hurting Americans’ mental health and elevating stress levels.

Social media use has exploded from just 7 percent of American adults a decade ago to more than 65 percent today.

In the 18-29 age range, the increase is even bigger -- from 12 percent to 90 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of people who just can't tear themselves away from social media is at alarming levels. Fully 43 percent of Americans say they are checking their emails, texts, or social media accounts “constantly.”

They’re paying for their social media fixation.

On a 10-point scale, constant checkers reported an average stress level of 5.3. For the rest of Americans, the average level is a 4.4.

“Social media can be an addiction for some people,” says Dr. Frieda Birnbaum, a research psychologist, psychoanalyst and author of “Life Begins at 60: A New View on Motherhood, Marriage, and Reinventing Ourselves."

“When a new e-mail or text message appears on our phones it can trigger a chemical reaction in our brains that bring us joy -- comparable to a feeling when we see delicious food we're about to eat,” she says.

“When we constantly check our electronic devices and there are no new messages, or when we pry into the lives of our friends on Facebook and become jealous or insecure seeing how they live -- social media can have a negative impact on a person's mental health,” she says.

“In addition, some Americans are fearful of losing their jobs, so they are more inclined to check work emails over the weekend -- which can lead to higher stress levels,” Birnbaum says.

How to cope, then?

 “One simple solution that can help reduce depression and stress from social media,” she says, “is to take healthy breaks from it.”

“Also, whenever you can, try to call someone or see someone in person” instead of texting them, she says.

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