Social media is a regular part of daily life for many of us. While posting our favorite photos to Instagram, chiming in on a discussion on Twitter and sharing personal updates on Facebook is a fun way to share our lives with loved ones and friends, the pressure to constantly stay connected could lead to anxiety, depression and other emotionally unhealthy behaviors.

According to a study from the University of Pennsylvania, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram use are connected to decreased mental well-being. Teens and young adults are particularly influenced by what others in their social network are doing and how others look. Comparing ourselves to others may trigger feelings of insecurity about our own lives and our appearance. This could also lead to unhealthy behaviors such as withdrawal from in-person social interactions, persistent anxiety, stress, feeling overwhelmed by normal routines, or avoiding real life responsibilities.

To help maintain mental well-being, Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s psychiatrist Sumeet Singh, MD, recommends setting healthy limits on social media.  “Limiting your social media activity to 30 minutes a day can help prevent anxiety and depression and sharpen your focus at work and at home,” says Dr. Singh.

He also provides the following tips for healthy social media use:

  • Don’t feel pressured to respond to posts immediately
  • Present your most authentic self online
  • Don’t feel pressured to join in the latest trend
  • Don’t take criticism personally and remove yourself from the situation if necessary

Knowing healthy social media habits and disciplining yourself to set boundaries in online communication with friends and family will help you feel better overall.

If you are struggling with feelings of prolonged anxiety, hopelessness and sadness, take our free online screening tool to see if you are at risk for depression.