Is Your Time on TV and Social Media Depressing You?

Tenth in a Series on Fighting Depression

(Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com)

You can’t leave the digital realm out of any mental health conversation, depression included.

There are a few reasons for this. For one, levels of higher social media exposure correlate with highter levels of depression. So do higher levels computer use and TV watching in general. Higher screen times indicate moderate to severe depression, especially when people view over six hours a day.

It’s hard for most of us to believe that what we watch and listen to will strongly influence our moods and actions. I want to think I’m more objective than all that. Guess not. I guess if we were that objective, there would be no fashion industry – in fact, no trend-based industry at all. There would be more Republicans in the cities and Democrats in rural towns. There would never have been 17 million people pouring freezing water over their heads in an ice bucket challenge.

Given the hard cold reality of how socially influenced we are, whether it’s by real people or digital ones, how depressed we are has everything to do with what we’re watching and listening to. So, in this area as in all others, we need to know ourselves to fight depression. What kind of content inspires and energizes us? What brings us down? What makes us feel good for a while, but leaves us feeling worse when it’s over?

If following a bunch of gorgeous people who spend gobs of time and money on physical perfection makes you feel inadequate when you look in the mirror – you could stop following them.

If watching porn leaves you more lonely, maybe its not as harmless as we want to tell ourselves.

If obsessing over your ex’s facebook documentation of all the best moments in their new relationship is driving you to despair – you get the message.

Staring at me from a bookshelf as I write are three wooden monkeys carved in Africa – each with a hand over eyes, ears, or mouth. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. When fighting a low mood, it only makes sense to see no depressing, hear no depressing, speak no depressing. (Unless the speaking is to someone truly compassionate and helpful.)

Even if I’m watching good, fun, inspiring stuff, too much screen time will keep me from doing the other nine things that help me fight depression, which we’ve covered in this series. It can also lead to later bedtimes and pooorer quality of sleep. I ended up deciding to keep the recreational screentime for the last hour or two of the day, and stop it in time to read something before I go to sleep. That feels about right for me.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wonder what real happiness I missed while I was watching everyone else’s virtual drama.

Homework: Pause after each show or social media session to notice your internal state. What are you thinking and how are you feeling? Is it positive, neutral or negative? Do you need to make any changes? How much screen time is enough for you? How much is too much?

Anything helpful to add? Click on the title, then scroll to comment after the article. For the first post in this series, click here.

2 thoughts on “Is Your Time on TV and Social Media Depressing You?

  1. Sound advice, Colleen. Also appreciate your examples of how you handle screen time. I’m with you: reading for awhile before bed helps to settle my mind for sleep. (No murder mysteries or thrillers though!)

    Like

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