The Negative Effects of Smartphones
Smartphones are seen by many as a great invention that allows us to have access to global communication, directions and maps, constant source of information, the ability to know a simple fact within a matter of seconds, and a way to find almost anything you are looking for. Not to mention having a plethora of games, tv, books, movies, and other forms of entertainment at your fingertips 24/7. Phones are used to communicate on all different types of platforms, provide music, cameras, weather, time, and even flashlights. With all of these accommodations on one device it is no wonder we never leave home without it. However, there have been numerous studies showing negative effects of having these devices constantly in hand. Some of those effects have direct relation to mental health and addiction.
We know that talking or texting on your phone while driving can be deadly. But how can using a phone lead to mental health and addiction problems? Children are learning how to use and even getting their own smartphones younger and younger. Couples are sitting at the same table and not speaking to each other. Families sit in separate rooms all on different devices doing their own thing. We all know how important human contact is and when that is removed and replaced by virtual contact, something is lost. Many employees never really leave the office as all their emails are on their phone and they can access their work from anywhere. They never take the time off to unwind, vacation, and even spend time with their friends and family. Many people, especially those of younger generations, say that they “couldn’t live without their phones.”
Studies have shown that people who use their phones excessively and compulsively, worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety. When people cannot check their phones or do not have it with them their anxiety heightens, and some even experience withdrawal like symptoms. Social media and smartphones go hand-in-hand, the number of selfies and documentation of food and activities with pictures on social media are constantly growing. For some people the number of friends they have and the number of “likes” they get for a single post makes them feel accepted and important. The more friends and the more likes received, make them feel like they have accomplished something and even a short-lived sense of happiness.
With the growing use of social media there is also a link with a growing number of cyber-bullying or cyber trolls. These bullies or trolls use social media to directly send negative, harassing, or even violent comments to someone. Losing friends, no likes, or even being a target of bullying and trolls can lead to greater symptoms of depression or even start depression.
Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common and serious mood disorder that often coexists with drug addiction; sometimes as one of the root causes, while other times as a result of substance abuse. It affects how you think, feel, and handle daily activities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated ten percent of U.S. citizens suffer from depression. Regardless, clinical depression must be treated along with substance abuse issues in order to reduce the likelihood of relapse. Chronic depression is very frequently related to the withdrawal from addictive drugs and is experienced more frequently among addicts than most people realize. Most people have feelings of anxiety before an important event. However, anxiety disorder is a common chronic disorder of long-lasting anxiety that is not focused on any one object or situation. Those suffering from this mood disorders experience persistent, excessive and unrealistic fear and worry about everyday matters. It can interfere with schooling, careers, relationships, and everyday activities. Recent surveys have found that as many as 18% of Americans may be affected by anxiety disorder. Psychology Today says that one out of 75 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 will experience a panic disorder at least once in their lifetime. When someone has anxiety the brain is producing the flight or fight chemicals, such as adrenaline, at times when their is no reason but it is convinced there is. Many people who suffer from addiction, also suffer from a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression.
Treatment of drug and alcohol addiction is seldom as simple as merely addressing the particular chemicals an addict is taking into his body. More often than not, addicts suffer from other disorders in conjunction with their chemical dependency which is clinically referred to as co-occurring disorders. The National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services says about 45% of U.S. citizens seeking treatment have been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2014 approximately 7.9 million adults in America suffered from co-occurring disorders. A holistic approach allows for decreased readmission rates, increased tenure in sobriety, increased patient satisfaction, and decreased absenteeism.
There are definite benefits to smartphones. However, for people who cannot seem to put their phones down or have a constant need to check them, it can become a problem for their mental health. There is a direct correlation between mental health disorders and addiction. Many people try to self-medicate to lessen the symptoms of their disorder. If you or a loved one needs treatment, there is help. It is important to get help as soon as possible for the addiction and any co-occurring disorders they may have.