A 2017 study conducted by psychologist Dr. Jon Elhai reveals a correlational relationship between frequent smartphone use and depression, anxiety, and stress, meaning either the symptoms of a mental health disorder cause increased usage or smartphone exposure increases these symptoms.
Whether smartphones are a coping mechanism or a catalyst, spending too much time on them has negative effects on mental and physical health. Dr. Samuel Hunley of Emory University compares compulsive smartphone activity to internet addiction, relating the positive feeling of checking and receiving notifications to short-lived “highs,” rushes of dopamine, that cause addiction.
Devices that connect us to the internet provide access to virtual communities, allowing us to stream, socialize, and share with incredible speed. Unlike mainframe computers, smartphones are portable devices that we can bring almost anywhere; thus, we can engage in online activities at all times.
Constant exposure can lead to the development of internet-based habits or addictions such as information overloading, online shopping or gambling, or internet dating addictions. Dr. Elhai finds that depression, anxiety, and stress may be the result of frequent internet usage, or, they are ongoing issues that cause an individual to increase their online presence.
Individuals struggling with depression may seek virtual companionship to stave off loneliness. Constant lethargy brought on by depression may prevent them from engaging in strenuous physical activity but not low-intensity pastimes like internet browsing. “Fear of missing out,” known as FOMO, can enhance your symptoms of anxiety.
Joining events through video sharing or instant messaging apps may reduce FOMO, keeping your anxiety in check. Internet games, news outlets, and social media platforms are effective distractions from stress. More research is needed to elucidate the relationship between mental health disorders and smartphone activity, but Dr. Hunley contends that frequent internet use will not dramatically impact mental health.
If you are concerned about your depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorder, call Alta Loma Transformational Services today. Our dedicated team of mental health professionals will work with you to understand your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that suits your unique needs. Our peaceful Texas ranch house is a quiet, contemplative space in which you can reflect on your experiences and heal. You deserve mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and we want to help you get there. Call us at (866) 457-3843 for a consultation.