We’ve all been there, it’s the middle of the night, and we really should have turned off our phones hours ago and gone to bed, but we seem to be in a continuous cycle of “doomscrolling” through each one of our social media apps, reading about the latest climate change new, the inflation, how the world is going crazy. We have a quick 5-minute scroll and are still scrolling 2 hours later. Undoubtedly, the past couple of years has been a lot to digest, leading the majority to increase our social media usage. But why do we continue to doomscroll when it makes us feel so awful and scarred.
What is doomscrolling?
Doomscrolling refers to continuously scrolling on your phone or computer through content that causes mental or physical distress. Global News has become so widespread that we can read about awful events happening halfway across the world. Spending hours upon hours scrolling through social media posts, blogs, and articles the new can provoke a range of media can cause physical changes to your brain that are known to drive the following mental health conditions:
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviour
How doomscrolling can affect our health
Doomscrolling can be detrimental to our mental and physical health if the act becomes a constant habit. Doomscrolling can create intense fear, anxiety, and depression in individuals, leading to additional mental health issues and interfering in their daily lives.
The constant disturbing and frightening images will automatically begin activating the brain’s fear circuit, medically known as the amygdala, which can cause individuals to feel chronically anxious and afraid in their day-to-day lives. Doomscrolling is often referred to as clickbait but on steroids.
What does doomscrolling to your brain?
Neuroscience has shown us that our brain has been wired to consume negativity at a much higher rate the positive information and pay an extra amount of attention to anything that may harm us, whether physically or mentally. Our brains naturally spike, alarming us to pay more attention to every negative and scary article or new report we read or listen to. This type of information will naturally trigger the dopamine-fueled reward system, in the same way the like of drugs, money, and food does. In a survey from the American Psychological Association, 56% of people said that regularly following the news causes stress. This survey referred only to the news; it did not consider the obsessive clicking and consumption heavily associated with doomscrolling.
Unhealthy doomscrolling causing unhealthy behaviours
When individuals become stressed, we become susceptible to staying up later due to our racing minds, and we are more likely to begin indulging in sugar treats that, as a consequence, end up spiking our bad moods and anxiousness. Furthermore, continuously stressed and anxious individuals are more likely to begin reaching for an alcoholic beverage or taking drugs to help calm the mind. However, these coping mechanisms will, more often than not, heavily backfire.
Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep can leave an individual feeling like their emotions are all over the place. One night of lack of sleep will leave an individual feeling:
- Higher level of stress
The next few days with the same lack of sleep will leave individuals with a severely lowered concentration level and impaired judgement. The longer an individual goes with a lack of quality sleep, the higher the negative consequence becomes; this can be seen to include:
- Continuous feelings of sadness, depression and hopelessness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Increased likelihood of engaging in substance abuse
- Increased likelihood of suicide attempts
When individuals begin giving in to their sugary craving, refined carbs, their blood sugar level will immediately spike, which will cause them to crash entirely in a couple of hours. The rollercoaster type effect can severely impact an individual’s mood and overall mental well-being, causing additionally mental health issues such as:
- Anger issues
- Trouble concentrating
Individuals who have become addicted to doomscrolling will often find themselves constantly talking about the adverse events they are reading about. They are likely to non-stop talk about these adverse events to individuals and significant others who do not want to hear about them. The inability to stop doomscrolling has a high potential of causing various relationship problems.
Addiction and doomscrolling
Doomscrolling does not have any positive attributes; if you allow yourself to become engulfed by the constant negative media outlets, you are risking your physical and mental health. Once an individual becomes addicted to doomscrolling, it won’t be long until they become isolated from friends and family. Due to the nature of what they are reading, they will feel a constant state of fear, and anxiety will have the potential to lead to additional mental health issues.
Our mental health is vital and is something we must keep in check. When our mental health begins to suffer, we allow ourselves to become vulnerable to adverse experiences such as substance abuse. It is very easy to fall into the trap of addiction; you use an illicit substance just once to help with your mental health issues, to calm your brain, and before you know it, your body craves the substance.
If you believe you have become addicted to doomscrolling, please talk to a professional to receive the help you need.