How Modern Technology Impacts Anxiety and Depression
Modern technology has made our lives infinitely easier. From calling an Uber, to ordering food from your favorite restaurant to finding a local yoga studio, technology has improved our lives in many ways. However, is technology increasing anxiety and depression in our society?
First, there is a big difference between causation and correlation. To claim that technology causes anxiety and depression is very different than finding a strong relationship between how technology (at least in part) may be affecting mental health.
With technology increasingly taking up more of our time, here are a number of ways technology may affect mental health:
The brain can become addicted to the Internet.
“Popcorn brain,” a relatively new and widely discussed term, refers to an individual who easily gets bored and is in constant need of something new and exciting. The human brain can become so accustomed to stimulation from the digital world that it grows to expect it all the time. Consequently, life offline may seem slower and more mundane, leading to an increased dissatisfaction with life.
Heavy Internet users constantly search for the next “high” or hit of dopamine. Withdrawals from their phones or computers can lead to feelings of anxiousness and irritability. This is similar to what the brain experiences with other types of addictions.
Technology serves as a distraction from dealing with life’s problems.
Temporary breaks from the real world are actually good for mental health (taking a walk or going for a hike); however, when the distraction becomes the norm, it leads to an avoidance of facing or resolving deep seeded issues.
Now more than ever, the Internet provides endless distractions. People can literally spend hours binge watching TV shows on Netflix, find countless videos on YouTube on random topics or order any item you could imagine from Amazon Prime. The Internet’s instant gratification and 24/7 access to people and to content is limitless. If people are looking for an escape from their problems, they don’t have to look any further than their phone or laptop.
In the same way people numb themselves with drugs and alcohol, technology is used as an escape from daily stresses, anxieties or problems people don’t want to face and resolve. This often exacerbates mental health problems such as depression and anxiety because people avoid seeking help or treatment in lieu of endless entertainment and distractions.
Prolonged Internet use is linked to depression.
Research suggests excessive Internet use is associated with depression. Dr Catriona Morrison from Leeds University states,”... over-engaging in websites that serve to replace normal social function might be linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction.”
Particularly through the use of social media, social comparisons create a sense of “fear of missing out” also known as FOMO. People compare every aspect of their lives and livelihood -- from vacations, to social life, to material items like clothes and cars -- to each other. People begin to wonder, “why wasn’t I invited to that party” or “why does it seem like everyone else is having more fun than me?” This phenomenon creates a strong sense of inadequacy and unfulfillment. Society has become obsessed with crafting an image or story about their lives on social media regardless if it is real or fake.
The constant bombardment of friends’ feeds which tell a story of a life that’s more fun and exciting can worsen depression and social anxiety. So although one cannot necessarily claim that modern technology “causes” depression or anxiety, there are many aspects of technology use that can worsen mental health problems that were already there.
Modern technology has undoubtedly advanced and impacted our world in positive ways. However, with anything good that is introduced into our society, there will always be unintended negative consequences. The key is to first become aware. The next step is to find a remedy.
Do you feel that technology has worsened your depression or anxiety? Are you not sure what to do or where to find support or help? We encourage you to contact us to share more about your situation and to discuss a treatment plan that meets your goals and needs.
At GUTS OC, Inc., we specialize in working with individuals who struggle with anxiety and depression. Our team of specialists are committed to educating & empowering our patients with the skills and mindset to live successful, happy lives. We combine the latest technology and mental health services to help our patients get long term results faster.
About GUTS OC:
We combine mental health services and state-of-the-art technology to help our patients obtain long-term results faster. Our specialties include therapy, micro current neurofeedback and life coaching. Our evidence-based approach has helped thousands of individuals, couples and families who have sought our help over the past 22 years. Our trained specialists are committed to educating & empowering our patients with the skills and mindset to live successful, happy lives.
GUTS OC is based in Newport Beach, CA but provides services to all of Orange County through in-person sessions and/or virtual therapy sessions via phone, chat or video.