Excessive use of social networking affects those with anxiety disorders

A new study of 100 people with anxiety disorder and 100 controls has demonstrated that “excessive” use of social networking sites can worsen symptoms in patients with anxiety disorders. Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, an international team recommends that those involved in mental health care, such as psychiatrists and psychologists should consider social networking use when evaluating patients and making treatment recommendations.

Fikret Poyraz Çökmüş of the Manisa Mental Health and Diseases Hospital in Manisa, Turkey, Orkun Aydın and Pınar Ünal-Aydın of the International University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kuzeymen Balıkçı of the Near East University in Nicosia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus point out that there have been many studies looking at the pros and cons of social networking sites.

Indeed, numerous studies have shown that excessive use of social networking and social media can have a detrimental impact on health, personal relationships, education, and overall quality of life. Of course, social networking use is only defined as excessive with respect to its negative impact on those parts of our lives and there are millions of people who use these tools positively in their personal, recreational, and business lives with no ill effects.

Nevertheless, whether positive or negative in their conclusions most of the studies undertaken have examined the impact on mental health with the general population. There is a dearth of studies that consider the psychiatric population where the negative impacts might be more profound. Anxiety disorder is well recognized and well studied. As such, it makes a useful entry point for remediating this situation regarding the scarcity of research in the psychiatric population. That said, the team’s conclusions suggest that the negative aspects of social networking use can affect both the general population and those with anxiety disorder. However, the detrimental impact of excessive social networking use should be high on the agenda when assessing and treating people with this particular mental health problem. Additional studies with a larger population sample size are now needed to corroborate the findings and to extend the scope of the research to other mental health problems.