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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Are Smartphones and Social Media Sparking Rising Rates of Depression in Young Adults?

It’s a pretty known fact that teens and college-aged adults are facing a lot of pressure and anxiety – from student loans to active shooter drills to political division – but experts wonder if there’s something else contributing to the growing rates of depression among this group. Namely, smartphones, tables and social media.

“One can speculate that increased use of digital devices and social media are among the contributing factors,” Ramin Mojtabai, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told USA Today. “There is some evidence that cyberbullying puts children and adolescents at increased risk of depression.”

Mojtabai was one of the researchers of an earlier study that discovered rapidly rising rates of major depression among teens and young adults. Among children ages 12 to 17, rates jumped to 11.3 percent in 2014, up from 8.7 percent in 2005. There was also an increase among young adults, but at a slower rate.

San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge also believes there’s a strong link between hours spent on these devices and signs of mental health distress. In her 2017 book, "iGen," she cited national health surveys and other statistics to show that teens who spend the most time on their screens are more likely to be unhappy.

"They are spending less time sleeping, less time with their friends face to face,” Twenge told USA Today. “It is not something that happened to their parents. It is not something that happens as a world event"

Perhaps this isn’t too surprising. One problem with social media, say experts, is that it can prevent young people from experiencing and then releasing emotions. When you text and post about your emotions and then check back for social media reaction, you perpetuate the emotion, lending it more power than it likely deserves.

Many young people mistakenly turn to drugs or alcohol to temporarily dull tough emotions like depression. But self-medicating is never a good idea. In fact, it can worsen the moods and emotions you were trying to suppress. It can make them become stronger, more frequent or longer in duration. 

Do You Need Dual-Diagnosis Treatment?
Co-occurring mental health conditions like depression may exist prior to substance abuse or develop as a side effect of drug and alcohol dependency. At Hope Academy, we conduct a series of tests upon admission to determine if mental illness is complicating substance abuse. Once we gain a comprehensive understanding of each patient’s individual health challenges, our addiction treatment team develops a customized program. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.
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