Social Media Addiction

Social media platforms allow us to stay constantly connected with friends and family members alike.

Unfortunately, for some people social media isn’t just a convenience – it’s a way of life.

What is Social Media Addiction?

Social media addiction, also known as social networking addiction, is a condition characterized by an obsessive need to stay up to date on social media. People with social media addiction may constantly check their Facebook feedback, curate images for Instagram or lose themselves in Twitter rather than engage in the world around them.

Although social media addiction is not yet included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the so-called “bible” of mental illnesses, it is often compared to other behavioral addictions like gambling disorder.

Addiction to social media can affect teens and adults alike.

Symptoms of Addiction to Social Media

Social media addiction can result in psychological symptoms including:

  • Anxiety or irritation when away from the internet
  • Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to cut back on social media use
  • Constant planning and thinking about social media
  • Needing to spend more and more time online to experience the same rush
  • Lying about the amount of time spent online

Social media addiction can also cause physical symptoms including:

  • Backache
  • Headache
  • Eye strain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Some people who are addicted to social media ignore meals, sleep or personal hygiene in favor of spending more time on the internet. Teens may skip school or work, ignore friends and postpone chores.

What Causes Addiction to Social Media?

Like any other addiction, addiction to social networking sites does not have one clear cause.

Some people who are addicted to social media have a co-occurring mental illness such as depression or anxiety. They might take solace in the internet and use it to fight their symptoms. Other people may turn to the internet because they lack emotional support in their daily lives.

Researchers are still working on uncovering the underlying causes of social media addiction.

Treatment for Social Media Addiction

Social media addiction – like any other behavioral addiction – can be treated through professional intervention.

Individual, group and/or family therapy can be a valuable tool for teens who are coping with social media addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of therapy that aims to change thinking and behavioral patterns, is an effective social media addiction treatment that is utilized one to two times per week at Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego, along with other individual therapies.

Individuals who are struggling with co-occurring mental illness may benefit from medication management. These addictions might be triggered by underlying emotional disorders, including anxiety and depression, so antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can be prescribed with the intent that treating the underlying cause will remedy the addiction to social media or addiction to social networking sites.

Our treatment team provides a thorough medical, psychosocial and psychiatric assessment, so that we can customize each treatment regimen to best suit the needs of every patient.

For more information about our treatment for social media addiction or any of our behavioral health programs, please call our 24/7, toll-free helpline.

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