Doomscrolling: Effect on mental health


Past midnight has come. You are aware that you should be sleeping, but you are stuck in a social media news black hole and unable to escape. You’re not alone if this describes you (in fact, it could be what got you here in the first place).

A global pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and the impending climate crisis are just a few examples of the bad news that can be found in the media to “doom scroll.” Still, new research indicates that the compulsive urge to browse the internet can adversely affect mental and physical health.

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What is Doomscrolling?

The propensity to “continue to surf or scroll through terrible news, even when such content is saddening, disappointing or depressing” is known as “doom-scrolling,” It has been increasingly popular since the start of the covid-19 epidemic, according to experts.

The word “doomscrolling” may be new, but the form is not. It’s a behaviour that involves consistently spending time browsing social media and reading unfavourable posts. Doomscrolling has become more popular due to the outbreak and has drawn more people in.

Doomscrolling may have begun as a way to keep up with the news, but it can quickly develop into a bad habit and, for some people, an obsession or compulsion. As you read, you observe soaring COVID rates, unethical government activity, and racially motivated crimes. Yet, despite how horrible these articles make you feel, you continue to scroll.

How Doomscrolling effects Mental health 

Doomscrolling is hazardous for mental health, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has fallen into the practice. Studies conducted long before the doomscrolling of today indicated that social media use might have a harmful influence on mental health. It fuels unfavourable comparisons with others, exacerbates loneliness, and fuels anxiety and despair.

Doomscrolling now adds another degree of harm from excessive social media use because of news headlines concerning illness, fatalities, violence, and political concerns. The effects on mental health are severe:

Develops unpleasant ideas and emotions: There is an inclination to look for any news and information to validate your anxiety or depression. It disseminates a negative loop that makes you feel down.

Makes mental illness worse: This pattern of resorting to bad news impacts existing mental health conditions. The habit might set off an episode or aggravate symptoms if you suffer from depression or anxiety disorders or are susceptible to them.

Heightens anxiety and fear: Rumination, a terrible habit that makes depression worse, is triggered by scrolling through depressing news headlines. It might also make you anxious and start a panic attack.

Trouble falling asleep: Before going to bed, many people like to scroll through their feeds, making it tougher to fall asleep as it makes you more restless. The negative cycle is advanced by poor sleep, which worsens stress and other mental health problems.

Cause uneasiness: Social media platforms have a tendency to tolerate any post, whether real or false. Fake news posts are still there even if several websites have started to take steps to eliminate them. You’ll also notice statements made by relatives and friends that might not be accurate. It’s confusing and upsetting to read one post contradicting another.

Cause stress hormones to rise: The stress chemicals cortisol and adrenaline are both elevated when people spend too much time on social media. Your body and brain create more cortisol and adrenaline the more doomscrolling you do. More stress and physical and mental tiredness result from this.

How To Reduce Doomscrolling

You can do the following:

  • Only use social media and read the news at specific periods of the day. Set the alarm to be reminded when the time is up.
  • Reduce the number of alerts you receive from your news and social networking applications.
  • Consider limiting the number of online sites you read each time you use the internet. If someone consistently stresses you out, unfollow them.
  • Make a mental note of it the next time you find you’ve signed on without thinking. Just be conscious of criticising yourself for it. It could gradually stop becoming a thoughtless habit.
  • If you discover that you are doomscrolling, stop and consider how you feel. Your cue to take a break and disconnect from the internet is when you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or agitated.
  • If particular blogs cause you to worry about a current event’s worst-case scenario, consider whether there is a more likely and manageable alternative.
  • Try to reorient your attention to the current moment that is genuinely occurring. It could be beneficial to practice mindfulness meditation.
  • Scroll slowly. Your attention span and racing thoughts won’t benefit from quickly skimming through your news or social media feed.
  • Turn off all of your electronics for at least two hours before going to bed. Consider avoiding using your phone or tablet in the bedroom.
  • Do offline activities in the real world. Engage in hobbies you enjoy, spend time with family and friends, and exercise.

The Bottom Line

A digital detox from phones, tablets, and laptops benefits mental health. Every day, spend some time doing something constructive and healthy instead of using technology. Take a stroll, meet a buddy for coffee at a safe distance, play with your dog, or read a good book. You sometimes need to make a deliberate effort to set aside time for healthy habits because they are beneficial for both your mental and physical health. You can put the devices away.

If, despite your best efforts, you still find yourself doomscrolling, think about seeking expert assistance. Doomscrolling can be an addictive activity, but it can also be a symptom of a mental condition. You will learn to control mental health symptoms and the habits that cause them with the support of treatment for both.

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