Are You a Doomscroller? How It Impacts Your Mental Health
People being glued to their phones is in no way an unusual site. As algorithms and artificial intelligence continue to develop, everyday people find themselves getting pulled deeper down the rabbit hole on a regular basis. However, a new phenomenon has begun to rise in prominence, one that sees people addicted to the bad news many of us have grown accustomed to these past few years. Banyan Mental Health helps ask the question: Are you a doomscroller? If the answer is yes, learn how this can impact your mental well-being.
Doomscrolling is the name given to the habit of continually scrolling through bad news, even if that information is depressing, damaging, or distressing. There are a number of reasons this so easily happens, including:
The normalization of politicians who spew harmful rhetoric as part of their platforms
News outlets sensationalize bad news to gain more views
Continual coverage of natural disasters and traumatic world events
These all highlight the fact that there is no shortage of bad news, and the internet has made it easier than ever to be able to access it. Think about it, bad things happening is not a new occurrence, but never in history have we held the sensational amount of information we do in our own back pockets. Many of us end up feeling wired to keep scrolling the more desensitized we become. Like it somehow is preparing us for the inevitable. It is crucial for a doomscroller to ask themselves: “How much of this event that I'm reading about actually affects my life, and what am I getting out of looking at this?”
The 1970s saw the presence of a similar phenomenon known as the mean world syndrome. This form of cognitive bias occurs when a person holds the belief that the world is inherently more dangerous than it actually is, which is further fueled by the presentation of bad news. Studies have even shown that coming across upsetting news influences people to research more information on the topic. It is understandable that this happens, being that a majority of people don’t like feeling helpless. So to quell those feelings of helplessness, they seek out knowledge.
This, unfortunately, does often result in a self-perpetuating cycle that gets harder to break away from the longer we participate in it. Being a doomscroller can have a negative effect on the individual's mental and physical health. The anatomy of our brain is literally programmed for survival. So continually exposing it to information that presents feelings of being threatened could make it difficult to accept any valid good news. The only real change is a worsened mood, one filled with isolation, depression, and anxiety.
This may not be as easy as we would like, as breaking this habit can feel especially difficult for a number of reasons. First, it is, in fact, normal to seek out news in times of crisis. As stated before, being informed can be both useful and empowering when done correctly. Second, being told not to do something often heightens our own desire to do it.
There will not be something bad happening in the world. It is a part of life that truly cannot be controlled in the ways we would prefer. As the saying goes, “We cannot control what happens to us, only how we choose to react to it.” If you find yourself behaving like a doom scroller, do what you can to unplug. Read a book you know you enjoy, do some writing, or go for a walk. It can be the smallest thing that has the power to change the negative mindset we are trapped in. We only need to give it a chance.
It is understandable if outside help is needed in order to learn to manage these habits. At Banyan, our residential mental health program is an excellent resource for individuals in need of more intensive care. Through a tailor-made therapy regime, patients are both enriched and engaged every step of the way. Whether you are suffering from a mood disorder or some other form of compulsive behavior, we have programs that can turn your life around.
To learn more about our mental illness treatment options in Boca, call Banyan at 888-280-4763 today.
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