What is Social Media Anxiety Disorder?

Social Media Anxiety Disorder is a mental illness that is related to the generalized social anxiety, which acquires when the social media interferes with mental and physical health of a human being.

Individuals who can relate themselves to the Social Media Anxiety Disorder fear that interacting with people will give rise to the feelings like evaluation, judgments, inferiority and self-consciousness. It often leads to the feelings like depression, inadequacy and embarrassment. After depression and alcoholism, Social Anxiety Disorder is considered as the third leading psychological disorder in the US.

Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Social Media Anxiety Disorder can often involve various social anxiety disorders, which are prominent in the today's technologically dependent society. This can include various symptoms that are an evidence of the Social Anxiety Disorder. Some of them are:

  • Fear of speaking in front of a crowd
  • Discomfort, anxiousness and nervousness in various online social situations
  • Extreme fright, palpitation, redness, unnecessary sweating
  • Muscle twitching, trembling and difficulty in swallowing

What are the Causes of Social Media Anxiety Disorder ?

To determine the actual cause of addiction to the social media, some researches have to be carried out effectively. Causes that are prevalent vary with parameters like personality, gender and age.

Social Reasons:

Some people tend to be addicted to the connections they make through various social media. Some online activities can be healthy and equally useful. Many people join various forums for advice for gaining relaxation. Nevertheless, when a person has too many virtual close friends and no one in reality, problems will surely develop.

An addict of social media will develop an emotional attachment with his or her online buddies. This seems as an attractive option for those who fear meeting people in person. Online pals allow people to escape from their real lives and meet their emotional needs that they do not get in real life.

Some social media addicts create fake personas altogether. They will pretend to be someone else to the person on the other end of the line. This is actually quite dangerous as people who do so, are often struck with low self-esteem or are seeking approval of others. Instead of seeking help from a mental counselor, these people tend to change their personality on the internet. However, this does not change the instances in their daily lives that they live offline. This can give rise to various symptoms of depression and inadequacy as well.

Personality Trait Reasons:

An interesting research on Social media addiction shows that some people have an inclination towards the online addictions just like an alcohol addiction. The research also points that people with a blend of life stressors, poor emotional health and an addictive personality may get addicted if the social media interferes in the due course.

Apart from all this, few people become an addict because the social media induces a strong feeling of emotion in them, which tends to be positive. As an example, you may think about a wife who is not happy with her husband and hops to an online dating sites to make new friends who are willing to share a word or two. Each time she faces some issues with her spouse, she will rely on the internet.

Signs and Symptoms for Social Media Anxiety Disorder

This disorder can be diagnosed with various symptoms and these include the following characteristics:

  • Being in a group of friends and interrupting the conversation just to speak about the latest comment on their Facebook update.
  • Stay away from social situations with family and friends just to keep up with the news on Twitter.
  • Checking the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter amidst an important chore to see if someone has left a comment or not.
  • Adding strangers haphazardly to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Spending a long time like 8 or more hours a day, on social networking sites.
  • Feeling a kind of attachment to the phone and computer like nothing else is more important than those are.
  • Tend to get anxious when comments or pictures are not tagged or posted in the right manner.
  • Constantly checking the number of followers on your Twitter account.

Variable symptoms of Social Media Anxiety Disorder can be seen, but somehow all are related to a kind of social obsession, which involves maintaining a status or an online image. People who do so constantly ensure that they are a part of an active group at all times. This behavior is healthy and acceptable to some level, but when it begins interfering with daily chores, intervening becomes necessary.

Treatment for Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Treating social media anxiety disorder may vary depending on its symptoms, which vary from person to person. However, it can be treated with a parallel medical attention that is related to the disorder. The major treatment involves the use of cognitive-behavioral therapies, which include following activities:

  • Being responsive or having an understanding of the problem.
  • Dedication to cognitive behavioral treatment to fully carry it through
  • Progress of methods and putting them to practice that later become habitual
  • Partaking in a social anxiety crowd to communicate with others who are facing similar instances

Various concepts, strategies and a combination of cognitive methods form a part of successful therapy. This will cause some changes in the brain of an individual. The beliefs and thoughts that are recorded as the symptoms of this disorder can be altered with this cognitive process. This therapy often involves a detailed evaluation between the therapist and the patient.

The primary aim of this session is to be aware of the disorder and the emotions that are associated with the patient's behavior. The questions that are provoking are repeatedly asked during the session, which will let a therapist determine the actual reason of the disorder in a person. Pharmacotherapy is often suggested even if cognitive-behavioral techniques are considered as an initial course of action.

An SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) can be prescribed for a period of 2 to 4 weeks. When in need, these can also be improved up to 12 weeks for getting a better response. MAOI or RIMA can be used in combination, if SSRI fails to react.

Additionally, following the below mentioned techniques by psychiatrist Dr. Milan Balakrishnan will help in contributing in a healthy use of social media:

  • Consulting someone who has used social media broadly.
  • Be conscious of privacy and security settings that will protect the personal information.
  • Start communicating in a gradual way and eventually increase the count of friends
  • To understand the actual use of any social networking site
  • Build up a profile gradually
  • Controlled use and maintaining a safe balance between real as well as social life.

Recovery Tips for Social Media Anxiety Disorder

  1. Admittance of having a problem and staying away from denials.
  2. Speculate the amount of time you are spending on social sites. Use a timer and restrict the use of the internet for long hours.
  3. Turn off all social notifications.
  4. Form a schedule for checking the Facebook status and stick to it at all times.
  5. Ask others or learn through your behavior if you are running away from a problem on Facebook or other sites. Learn to deal with the situation rather than running away.
  6. Take a break for a month from Facebook and see how you feel during the course. Try to cope up with your offline activities at work, school or home as well. You may be surprised with some rewarding results.
  7. Make a list of all the things that you would love doing other than spending some time on Social Media Site like Facebook. Start planning and stick to the plan for carrying out these activities.
  8. It is also recommended to block social media sites for some time and never to be tempted with it. This is just like deciding that you do not have to consume alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes that tempt your body or mind.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: July 5, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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