How Social Media Affects Our Mental Health

Social media has become such a big part of our lives; we sometimes don’t even realize how much time we spend scrolling through our feeds. It’s the last thing many of us look at before we go to bed and the first thing we check when we wake up – but does interacting with social media hurt our mental health?

A recent finding published in the Journal of Mental Health found that 70 studies conducted over the last ten years to examine how social media affects mental health came back with differing conclusions. Some studies found social media to have a positive impact on people’s lives, while others warned against the possible connection between social media and depression or anxiety.

Ultimately, the study found that social media does affect mental health. Whether it’s a positive or negative impact is determined by how the individual uses the platforms. Finding a balance and developing healthy habits for using social media is essential for making sure it has a positive presence in your life.


There are definite benefits of using social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can enable communication skills and social connections, as well as be a source of inspiration and motivation.

Social media is also particularly useful as a business tool with regards to marketing a brand. Especially during a time when social distancing and various restrictions have limited other forms of connections.

Another huge benefit of social media is the ability to raise awareness about important issues and share news about trending matters.

But how much is too much?

The addictive action of constant scrolling can be detrimental to the human psyche in several ways. With a constant barrage of information, both visual and descriptive, it’s easy to get caught up in comparisons. This has shown to have a negative impact on self-esteem, sometimes leading to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

Social media can also have a negative impact in other ways. With a large amount of information available at your fingertips, you may find that your attention span has decreased, as well as your ability to sleep peacefully through the night.

The obsession with the virtual world can also result in disconnection in the real world. This puts a strain on relationships and can trigger feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

Are You Or A Loved One Being Impacted By Social Media?

There are a few indicators that may give you a clue about the handle that social media has on your life, all of which can add to the development of depression.

Perceived Social Isolation

Studies have shown that there’s a correlation between the amount of time spent on social media and perceived social isolation (PSI). When users spend more time engaging in the virtual world, they can forget how to engage in real-world encounters.

Lowered Self-Esteem

With a constant influx of picture-perfect people living in an ideal world, it’s very easy to play the comparison game. But many don’t realize that these images are curated and the bar for success is set unrealistically high.

Less Physical Activity

When social media becomes an addiction, it can take time away from doing other physical activities. In turn, this removes the release of endorphins that are brought about from healthy activity. The dopamine burst comes from a notification, and this addiction is neither reliable nor healthy.

Decreased Concentration

Social media platforms are not only addictive, but they are also distracting. The constant need to engage, get likes, and consume information can distract from more important activities such as learning.

Sleep Deprivation

Research has shown that up to 60% of teenagers and adults use their screens right before bed. This can have a negative impact on the ability to sleep – because of the blue light and influx of information. Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest contributions to depression.

How to Protect Your Mental Health

  1. Schedule time to use social media and times to step away.As with most things, balance is the key to having healthy habits on social media. You can set aside time when you can surf the web, and times when you log off and ignore notifications. It is particularly important when you’re spending time with friends or family and before you go to sleep. It may be helpful to use an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake up in the morning, so you can leave your phone in the other room when it’s time to go to bed.
  2. Be clear about what your purpose is when logging onto a social media site and stick to it. We’ve all gone online to check the time of a birthday party next week and found ourselves, an hour later, watching video after video. Be thoughtful about why you’re logging into a site and then make sure you sign off when you’re finished. This will also make sure you’re using social media the way you want – to connect with friends or get updates on your favorite band – without letting what other people are posting take over.
  3. Use other people’s posts as inspiration rather than comparison. Seeing other people broadcast their successes and post magazine-perfect moments of their lives might make your daily life pale in comparison. But remember that these moments aren’t representative of someone’s whole life, and the person posting them is probably struggling with a lot of the same things you are. Looking at these posts as inspiration for you to work toward your own goals, rather than directly comparing your daily life to their Instagram, is a healthier way to view posts on social media. It’s also good to be selective about who you follow. If someone’s posts consistently make you feel bad about yourself or get you frustrated, then consider unfriending or unfollowing that person.
  4. Think before posting.Likewise, think about what you’re sending out to the world. Before you hit send on a post, consider whether it’s spreading positivity. You can help make your feed an encouraging place to be by avoiding trolls or online arguments and fostering a community of support and positivity among your friends or followers – at least on your page.
  5. Put your mental health first.Check in with yourself and if you’re feeling down, maybe go outside for a walk or grab coffee with a friend rather than spending time online. If getting notifications throughout the day makes you feel stressed or anxious then it would be a good idea to delete the social media apps from your phone or disable push notifications, so you only see alerts when you sign in manually.

Being on social media can help enhance your social life, but it can also easily become an additional stressor, and potentially exacerbate symptoms of anxiety or depression. Using some of these tips can help you create healthy social media habits that create balance in your life, protect your mental health, and make your social media use a positive force rather than a negative one.


Attachment Styles: What Is Yours And How Does It Impact Your Relationships?

Humans are social creatures, and it is normal to seek out relationships and find comfort amongst others. Most people have an innate need to belong and feel accepted. Finding an appropriate, healthy attachment with someone can take a lot of work. After all, we all have problems with our relationships — no one is perfect.


Some adverse childhood experiences can still influence you to this day. Without realizing it, the way you bonded with your parents and how you interacted with your peers at a young age plays a significant role in your attachment style. The relationships we have with our guardians as a child influence our social and intimate relationships in the future. Simply put, if you have unhinged or unstable parents as a kid, your relationships may be in for a wild ride.

As an adult, if you find your relationship hitting the same ruts, some adjustments may need to be made. Are you easily jealous or overly clingy? Do you find yourself wanting to only hang out with your significant other, ignoring your friends? Do you shut down immediately when your partner says something you don’t like? Therapy, paired with education about attachment styles, can provide a deeper understanding of how you can improve your relationships. It is helpful to understand what kind of attachment style you and your partner have to understand each other on a deeper level.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

An individual with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style requires constant validation. They are usually seeking approval, support, and attention from their partner. They often struggle with being alone and have an intense fear of abandonment. There may be a history of emotionally turbulent relationships that fuel the fire for this anxious attachment style.

The anxious-preoccupied individual often feels insecure and is preoccupied and often obsessed with how their partner views them. They are anxious about every aspect of the relationship and need constant reassurance. The past is a significant determinant of this attachment style. They most likely have been burned by a past relationship and have trouble moving forward in new relationships. Individuals with this attachment are known to be kind-hearted and sensitive, but some behavior may be perceived as too needy or clinging too tight.

Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment

This type of attachment is characterized by the independent, “lone wolf” persona. They rarely depend on others for emotional comfort or support. They avoid being intimate and vulnerable and push away those who get too close. Dismissive-avoidants typically have few close friends; they do not want to depend on others, and they do not want to be depended upon. There is a lack of commitment due to being extremely self-reliant.

Independence can be a good thing — to an extent — but the person who forms dismissive-avoidant attachments takes their need for independence to an extreme. However, this individual tends to open up emotionally when there is a shared experience or crisis. The bonds that do form with this individual are deep and emotionally charged.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment

Individuals with fearful-avoidant attachment push people away due to an intense fear of rejection. In this case, the act of pushing people away is done out of fear and not because of trying to maintain independence. They desperately want to feel connected but have a hard time trusting others. They tend to rely on themselves and often see themselves as abandoned, but they push people away, in actuality. There is a constant fear that their partner will view them in a negative light and leave. The fearful-avoidant has significantly low self-esteem and persistent negative self-talk.

Fearful-avoidant attachment stems from a history of childhood grief, abuse, or abandonment. Therapy can help individuals with this attachment style learn the first steps of trusting people. Therapy can also help this individual explore their past and pinpoint the reasons why they fear rejection.

Secure Attachment

People with secure attachments can draw healthy boundaries. They are open with others and are comfortable sharing feelings. In arguments, they do not blame or attack others but rather aim to understand and talk it through. These individuals are capable of trusting others and seeking support when needed. They can grieve, learn, and move forward.

The secure attachment style is described as the healthiest form of attachment. The ability to trust others and form boundaries when needed creates lasting relationships, both romantically and socially.


If you don’t have an idea of what your attachment style is yet and want to take a test, you can take this one for free and it only takes 5 minutes. It’s a great resource that will give you an idea of your attachment style across different relationships—parents, friends, romantic partners.

If you don’t want to take the test, the gist of it is this: if you’re consistently avoiding commitment, avoiding your romantic partners, shutting them out, or not sharing things with them, then you’re probably pretty avoidant.

If you’re constantly worrying about your partners, feel like they don’t like you as much as you like them, want to see them 24/7, need constant reassurance from them, then you’re probably anxious.

If you’re comfortable dating people, being intimate with them and are able to draw clear boundaries in your relationships, but also don’t mind being alone, then you’re probably secure.

Note, however, that there are some individual differences in how strongly we might identify with each attachment style. For example, you might be securely attached in most areas but have some anxious or avoidant tendencies in other situations.

That said, most people typically have a predominant attachment style they tend to fall back on in their close relationships.

Using Attachment Styles in Relationships

Attachment styles are not labels. They are categories aimed at helping us understand how we bond in our relationships. Most people do not have any fixed attachment style but have a mix of them. Learning about your partner’s attachment style can help benefit the success of your relationship. When in a relationship, it is important to feel heard and validated. Boundaries and trust are crucial for healthy relationships. Learning about your attachment style can benefit the long-term outcome of your relationships. Knowing and learning about your attachment style can lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and your partner. Attachment styles can serve as a guide for how to approach your partner or what to be aware of with your own relational tendencies.


Health Anxiety: What It Is and How to Cope

Do you always worry that you may have a serious illness?  Are you constantly searching up symptoms online? Do these worries keep you up at night?  Worrying about your health is normal from time to time.  But when these worries start to impact your ability to function, you may want to seek help in order to determine a course of action.

Worrying About Your Health Vs. Health Anxiety  

Being worried about your health isn’t the same thing as having health anxiety (formerly known as hypochondria).  There is a difference between someone who has minimal symptoms and is still anxious about being sick and someone who is worried about actual symptoms.

People with health anxiety often misinterpret normal physical symptoms and think that they are something more serious.  For instance, they may worry that a headache is a brain tumor or that forgetting where they put their keys could possibly be dementia.

So how do you know if it’s health anxiety or if you may actually be sick?  Here are some signs…

  • You have no symptoms, but are still anxious about being sick
  • When a doctor tells you that you aren’t sick or a test shows that you’re healthy, you still feel worried
  • You visit your doctor regularly with fears of illness and needs of reassurance
  • You are constantly searching up health information online
  • Excessive body checking

Continuing to worry about your health causes your body’s alarm system to go off. This produces symptoms of anxiety (racing heart, tightness of chest, difficulty with breathing, sweating, nausea, dizzy, jitters etc…). These symptoms are real and give your mind more cause for concern, even though the thoughts are often false.

Discerning the difference between anxiety and a serious medical condition can be difficult. Therefore, it’s important to rule out a medical condition first.  Once you’ve seen your doctor and received a clean bill of health, you can begin treating your health anxiety.

What are the main causes of health anxiety?

There are a variety of factors that may contribute to the development and onset of problems with health anxiety. These include:

Genetics: Some people are born with a temperament that leads them to be more prone to experiencing anxiety than most people. In addition, most forms of anxiety run in families to some degree.

Family background and childhood experiences: Individuals who experience a stressful family life during their childhood (such as family conflict, high family stress, or abuse) are more likely to develop problems with anxiety and depression. People who have problems with anxiety in general may be more likely to also have worries and fears about health and illness.

Social Learning: We can learn many things from our parents, siblings, or other significant people in our lives. Sometimes these lessons can be positive but at times we can pick up negative things from those around us. Children often model what their parents or siblings do. For example, if an anxious parent avoids a range of situations, children watching this are likely to behave in similar ways (i.e., engaging in avoidance).

Illness and death experience: Health anxiety may also be related to stressful experiences with illness and death in childhood or during the adult years.

What psychological treatments are used to treat health anxiety?

The primary psychological treatment that has been shown to be effective with this problem is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment involves:

  • understanding anxiety and how problems with anxiety can develop;
  • decreasing specific behaviors such as checking one’s body for symptoms and asking for reassurance about one’s health;
  • learning how to counter the excessive worries about health and illness;
  • overcoming avoidance of situations related to illness and death using exposure strategies;
  • learning to face worries about illness realistically and directly which can reduce the fear associated with these thoughts;
  • coping with fear of death by emphasizing the importance of accepting the reality of death and enjoying life to the fullest; and
  • general anxiety management strategies such as relaxation techniques and increasing exercise.

6 Tips for Coping with Health Anxiety

  1. Remember that your thoughts are not facts. Anxiety tries to protect us from pain, danger and discomfort, but often our worries are not warranted. What would happen if you challenged the thinking that promotes an over-focus on your body? What if you actually contracted something you are fearing- what is the worst that would happen? How would you cope if your worst fears came true?
  2. Calm your body and regulate your nervous system. You might utilize relaxation skills, deep breathing, mindfulness practice, being in nature, or other soothing activities that ground you back in the present moment. These are tools that can help you to refocus attention when thoughts about the body are all-consuming.
  3. Ask yourself: How much mental effort, time and energy does this thought or worry deserve? What is more meaningful to me that I could be focusing on or doing instead (i.e. playing with my children, completing a work task, engaging in a hobby). Clarifying values and then taking steps to do what brings you purpose and joy will reduce emotional distress.
  4. Be willing to experience discomfort. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know! If we can ride the waves of discomfort, whether it be tension in our muscles, frequent uncertainty, or racing thoughts, these concerns are more likely to dissipate on their own. Just like a wave in the ocean, intense experiences build, peak and then diminish; I promise your discomfort will not last forever, although I appreciate the worry that it might. As our response to our physical sensations and thoughts shifts, so too will the anxiety itself.
  5. Acknowledge your experience. Validate the emotions or sensations you are feeling in your body. Trying to talk yourself out of what is there may only amplify your distress. Open yourself up to curiosity about WHY these sensations or emotions are present; Perhaps there is an alternative explanation other than the one you have feared. Bodies are “noisy,” complex and ever-changing, so it is reasonable to consider the fact that your body may be experiencing shifts that are expected and healthy.
  6. Seek support from trusted healthcare professionals. Express concerns about any new or concerning symptoms you have, and trust in your provider’s recommendations about how to evaluate and treat those concerns. Allow your treatment team to support and educate you in ways that are validating but not enabling of the health anxiety.

Reach out to us today to get started with a Qualified Clinician or Professional Coach.


October is Depression Awareness Month

October is National Depression Awareness Month. Lots of people have heard of depression, but most don’t understand what it really means, and it can be tricky to fully understand. The first thing to realize is that it’s completely normal to feel depressed. The human brain isn’t wired to feel happy 100% of the time. We’re supposed to feel sad or depressed after a pet dies, or after we lose a job, or at the end of a romantic relationship. But most people have learned how to cope with those kinds of emotions, and our mood usually bounces back.

People are often surprised to hear that our mood is supposed to go up and down throughout the day. But think about it: we might wake up grumpy, but then a jog makes us feel energized and happy. Then we go to work and our boss criticizes us and we feel down, but a good lunch resets our mood and then we feel good again. These so-called “mood swings” are healthy and don’t mean that we have depression or bipolar or any other mental health disorder. It’s just part of life.

However, there are some red flags to be aware of that might indicate that something else is going on. Indicators that might push normal feelings of sadness into clinical depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder or MDD. This may occur when we feel depressed for at least two weeks, and we lose the ability to feel any kind of pleasure from things that usually make us happy.

Let’s say you feel depressed for a few days, but then you hang out with friends, you’re laughing, and you’re having a great time. That means you aren’t in the middle of a major depressive episode because you’re feeling pleasure. If you’ve been depressed for weeks, and when you went to see your friends you didn’t cheer up at all, and playing with your kids isn’t making you feel better like it usually does, then that could mean you have MDD. People dealing with this disorder often feel empty or hopeless, and even activities that are usually fun instead feel like a chore. It’s a very scary feeling, and in more severe cares, MDD can make people want to die or even attempt suicide.

Types of depression

Depression is a complex condition, and people can experience depression in unique ways. Common forms of depression include:

  • Major depressive disorder – Major depressive disorder is the most common form of depression and involves intense sadness and a loss of interest in previous sources of enjoyment. Other symptoms include fatigue, changes in appetite, and even adverse effects on cognitive functioning.
  • Persistent depressive disorder – Clinicians often refer to persistent depressive disorder as dysthymia. The condition describes experiencing a sad and dark mood for around two years, and the condition often comes after a period of major depressive disorder.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – This condition can arise as part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Clinicians consider PMDD to be a more intense form of PMS, and the condition typically features periods of emotional distress and feelings of hopelessness.
  • Adjustment disorder with depressed mood – This condition features depression symptoms within three months of a significant life event. Life events that contribute to the condition can be both positive and negative.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – SAD includes depression symptoms during winter or rainy seasons when a person experiences less sunlight and gets outside less.

Depression Checklist

This checklist is to help you discuss your symptoms with your health care provider. It is not a substitute for support from your health care professional. Recognizing symptoms early on will help you find the support you need.

  • I have moods which I would describe as sad, anxious or ‘empty’ which last for a long time
  • I feel hopeless, pessimistic or have low self esteem
  • I feel guilty and / or worthless
  • My sleeping habits have changed; I oversleep or can’t sleep
  • My eating habits have changed; I eat more or less
  • My weight has changed; I have lost or gained weight
  • I have less energy, feel tired, and slowed down
  • I have begun to procrastinate and simple tasks are difficult
  • I constantly feel like ‘life isn’t worth living like this’
  • I have thought about death or suicide, or have attempted suicide
  • I feel restless, irritable, my temper is bad and I can’t relax
  • It’s difficult for me to concentrate, remember, and make decisions.
  • My mind has an uncontrolled ‘sad’ feeling and I have negative thoughts I can’t keep out
  • I have persistent physical symptoms (headaches, digestive disorders, chronic pain) which doesn’t respond to treatment
  • I can’t turn off my anxiety and I uncontrollably worry about small things
  • I have a difficult time making small talk and I am slowly isolating myself from others
  • My family has a history of depression, alcoholism or nervous breakdowns

The most sinister part of depression: it tricks us into thinking that there’s no hope. That nothing is going to get better. That’s not true. There are actually some very good treatments for depression. A combination of talk therapy and psychiatric medication has been shown to be a very effective treatment. Keep in mind that medications alone are better than nothing, but they can take 6-8 weeks to show their full effect, and talk therapy is a crucial part of treatment for depression. If you think that you may have clinical depression, you can call the national suicide prevention hotline anytime, day or night. You don’t have to be feeling suicidal. It’s free and anonymous, and they can help you figure out a plan to start feeling better.

You can also schedule an appointment with a therapist, and they can help you get started on the path to more permanent change. Please give us a call today!